Amazon Is Putting a One-Year Moratorium On Its Facial Recognition Software

The ban on the controversial Rekognition tool only applies to police use

Facial recognition
Facial recognition tech has come under increased scrutiny
John M Lund Photography Inc / Getty Images

Following in the footsteps of other tech companies like IBM, Amazon recently announced they are implementing a one-year moratorium on police use of Rekognition, the company’s facial recognition technology. The tech will still be used for missing children, to combat human trafficking operations and for commercial uses.

In a short statement on Amazon’s blog, the company notes, “We’ve advocated that governments should put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology, and in recent days, Congress appears ready to take on this challenge. We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested.”

The company had come under scrutiny for its software well before the recent protests against police brutality. When it launched in 2018, similar tech had been chastised for its inaccuracies (including racial and gender bias), which spawned employee protests almost immediately after its introduction.

“This surveillance technology’s threat to our civil rights and civil liberties will not disappear in a year,” as Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties director with the ACLU of Northern California, told CNET. “Amazon must fully commit to a blanket moratorium on law enforcement use of face recognition until the dangers can be fully addressed, and it must press Congress and legislatures across the country to do the same.”

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