A coalition of nearly 20 groups of Amazon shareholders have joined together to send a message to CEO Jeff Bezos: Stop selling Rekognition software to police.
In the letter, the shareholders express their concerns about how the software can be used. Right now, users can use the software to detect objects and faces in images and videos and upload a face to automatically identify individuals. In the letter, the shareholders wrote that, "We are concerned the technology would be used to unfairly and disproportionately target and surveil people of color, immigrants, and civil society organizations," and "We are concerned sales may be expanded to foreign governments, including authoritarian regimes."
There are those at Amazon who think that putting a ban on the sales of the software would be pointless since Amazon's policy prohibits the use of its software for activities that are illegal, violate the rights of others, or may be harmful in any way.
"We believe it is the wrong approach to impose a ban on promising new technologies because they might be used by bad actors for nefarious purposes in the future. The world would be a very different place if we had restricted people from buying computers because it was possible to use that computer to do harm," said Matt Wood, general manager of artificial intelligence at Amazon Web Services in a blog post.
Rekognition was introduced in 2016 and has users in the law enforcement field in Orlando, Fla., and Washington County, Ore.