Amazon are not above the law — they make their own laws

1 min read

Georgia Iacovou

27 Sep 2019

Amazon want to write the law on facial recognition

Recently we wrote a little piece about Ring’s dealings with various police departments in the USA; Ring, who are owned by Amazon, make smart doorbells for households. One of the ‘smart’ features is a camera with facial recognition software. Users of Ring can add the faces of ‘suspicious persons’ to an Amazon database. This stuff isn’t exactly a hard sell to law enforcement.

Amazon have been providing over 400 police departments with scripts to learn and repeat to civilians, to either convince them to hand their Ring footage over, or sell them a Ring doorbell if they don’t already have one. The result is an Amazon-approved surveillance network. Essentially, it’s a privacy nightmare.

At an event on Wednesday, Jeff Bezos then said this:

“Our public policy team is actually working on facial recognition regulations; it makes a lot of sense to regulate that”

So the idea behind this is that Amazon will start drafting what they think the federal US law on facial recognition should look like, and then start pitching that to lawmakers.

🤔 Let’s just get this straight: Amazon, who make and sell facial recognition software to both consumers and the police, want to write the regulation… on facial recognition software.

This smacks of conflict of interest. Facial recognition software is a powerful tool that most certainly needs regulation to circumvent abuse. But surely you can’t expect to govern how this — shoddy at best — software is used if you make it yourself.

We know that governments aren’t exactly prepared to legislate on how technology should be regulated, but does that mean big tech should be taking it into their own hands like this? They certainly won’t have to care much about privacy if privacy is no longer a problem.

It’s very clear from Amazon’s recent dealing with US police departments that via Rekognition, they want to further their reach and influence over people’s data. What better way to do that than write the law on facial recognition?

the author

Georgia Iacovou

Content Writer, Metomic