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Orlando Renews Facial “Rekognition” Pilot Program

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Thanks to its positively metastatic rate of growth, Amazon has been blamed for killing many things: bookstores, malls, movie theaters and pretty much any buying experience that involves leaving your couch.

But there’s one part of Amazon’s business that is very interested in seeing your face out and about in public.

Amazon Rekognition is a facial recognition system. And Orlando’s police department is one of two in the country helping Amazon beta-test their proprietary software for use in law enforcement. In Orlando, city staff are helping fine-tune Rekognition as a real-time surveillance system.

The city recently renewed its agreement in the Rekognition pilot program, saying facial recognition could help prevent crimes by known offenders. But the program has met with broad condemnation from civil rights groups and even Amazon investors, who say there’s massive potential for privacy abuses.

As the practical development of the technology moves forward, requirements for oversight lag behind. There’s very little legal precedent in place to address abuses of this instrument, yet our public spaces are being offered up as a test lab in which to perfect it.

Amazon calls Rekognition an object detection tool. But people aren’t objects, and everyone should be free to walk down the street without being watched by the government. Especially when no one is watching the watchers.

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