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Orlando Passes On Amazon’s Facial Recognition Software

Say Contributor
As the debate about Amazon’s facial recognition software continues to heat up, another city has told the tech-giant thanks but no thanks. O-Town As reported by The Orlando Weekly, Amazon was in the second pilot phase of testing a new software program Rekognition in Orlando, Florida. Starting in October of last year, the software was used with a number of camera downtown, at a community center and several at the police station. The idea was that Rekognition would automatically identify and track suspects in real-time using facial recognition algorithms. This would, in theory, help the police track suspects. It didn’t work out that way, though. Buggin’ Out Ultimately, it seems that Rekognition had too many bugs and technical issues for Orlando’s police to move forward. There were bandwidth restraints that made it so the software could only run on one camera at a time, the cameras didn’t have enough resolution to recognize subjects and the video feeds had a tendency to cut out whenever the staff tried to get them to work. Rosa Akhtarkhavari, who headed the pilot, admitted they've "never gotten to the point to test images." Also, apparently the cameras were often places so high they often only showed the tops of people’s heads. (Amazon offered to buy Orlando new cameras, but the city declined.) A Win’s A Win There’s no end to ethical objections that activists have to Amazon’s facial recognition technology, from wide-ranging privacy concerns to the way it’s been used to help ICE deport migrants to the software’s tendency to misidentify people with darker skin. Orlando stopped the tests more for technical issues, but the ACLU was thrilled anyway, thanking the Orlando police and noting “Amazon's surveillance technology doesn't work and is a threat to our privacy and civil liberties.” -Michael Tedder Photo: Regis Duvignau / REUTERS

As the debate about Amazon’s facial recognition software continues to heat up, another city has told the tech-giant thanks but no thanks. O-Town As reported by The Orlando Weekly, Amazon was in the second pilot phase of testing a new software program Rekognition in Orlando, Florida. Starting in October of last year, the software was used with a number of camera downtown, at a community center and several at the police station. The idea was that Rekognition would automatically identify and track suspects in real-time using facial recognition algorithms. This would, in theory, help the police track suspects. It didn’t work out that way, though. Buggin’ Out Ultimately, it seems that Rekognition had too many bugs and technical issues for Orlando’s police to move forward. There were bandwidth restraints that made it so the software could only run on one camera at a time, the cameras didn’t have enough resolution to recognize subjects and the video feeds had a tendency to cut out whenever the staff tried to get them to work. Rosa Akhtarkhavari, who headed the pilot, admitted they've "never gotten to the point to test images." Also, apparently the cameras were often places so high they often only showed the tops of people’s heads. (Amazon offered to buy Orlando new cameras, but the city declined.) A Win’s A Win There’s no end to ethical objections that activists have to Amazon’s facial recognition technology, from wide-ranging privacy concerns to the way it’s been used to help ICE deport migrants to the software’s tendency to misidentify people with darker skin. Orlando stopped the tests more for technical issues, but the ACLU was thrilled anyway, thanking the Orlando police and noting “Amazon's surveillance technology doesn't work and is a threat to our privacy and civil liberties.” -Michael Tedder Photo: Regis Duvignau / REUTERS