And the ACLU is furious.
Amazon found itself at the center of a brewing privacy controversy on Tuesday after the American Civil Liberties Union disclosed that the tech giant is selling facial recognition technology to law enforcement that the company has said “helps identify persons of interest against a collection of millions of faces in real-time.”
In a letter to CEO Jeff Bezos, the ACLU and a couple dozen other civil rights organizations called on Amazon to “stop powering a government surveillance infrastructure that poses a grave threat to customers and communities across the country.”
The facial recognition technology, called Rekognition, is sold by the company’s fast-growing Amazon Web Services unit that generated sales of more than $17 billion for Amazon in 2017.
In an AWS blog post from November, Amazon said that the Washington County Sherrif’s Office in Oregon “has been using Amazon Rekognition over the past year to reduce the identification time of reported suspects from 2-3 days down to minutes and had apprehended their first suspect within a week by using their new system.”
But the ACLU argued in the letter to Bezos that the technology “is primed for abuse in the hands of governments.”