Sen. Markey Releases Statement on Amazon’s Pause on Facial Recognition Technology

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The following is a media release from Sen. Ed Markey, who was elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. He is a Democrat.

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BOSTON – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, released the following statement after Amazon announced will to stop providing its facial recognition technology to law enforcement for one year.

Senator Markey has repeatedly pressed Amazon for answers about its Rekognition product.

Senator Markey contacted Amazon after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a report showing that Rekognition had misidentified 28 members of Congress in a set of public arrest photos, including the lawmakers.

“For nearly two years, I have been sounding the alarm about Amazon’s problematic surveillance tools, demanding the company address concerns that its facial recognition technologies have deeply troubling accuracy and bias issues that pose particularly high risks to Black and Brown individuals,” said Senator Markey. 

“Their products have the alarming potential to infringe on Americans’ privacy rights in ways that we would have thought unimaginable not long ago. Pressing pause on the use of this technology by law enforcement is a positive step, but what Amazon should really do is a complete about-face and get out of the business of dangerous surveillance altogether. That means also making wholesale changes to its Amazon Ring products and Neighbors app because the policies governing those offerings are an open door for privacy and civil liberty violations,” said Sen. Markey.

“As protestors in Massachusetts and across the nation demand that we dismantle damaging systems throughout our society, Amazon still has considerable work to do.”

Senator Markey has also queried Amazon about its connected doorbell company Ring.

That oversight revealed the following findings:

  • Ring had no security requirements for the law enforcement offices that get access to users’ footage.
  • Ring had no restrictions on law enforcement sharing users’ footage with third parties, nor any policies that prohibit law enforcement from keeping shared video footage forever.
  • Ring had no evidentiary standard for law enforcement to request Ring footage from users.
  • Ring refused to commit to not selling users’ biometric data.
  • Ring had no oversight/compliance mechanisms in place to ensure that users don’t collect footage of children.

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