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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Slammed for his Plans for Regulating Face Recognition

Amazon has also defended the face recognition

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Jeff-Bezo
FILE - Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos addresses the media about the New Shepard rocket booster in Colorado Springs, Colorado, April 5, 2017. (VOA)

Civil rights groups have criticised Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for a statement that his company is working on its own regulation framework for the controversial facial recognition technology.

Appearing before the media at his company’s annual product event where it launched a slew of new smart home devices, Bezos said: “Our public policy team is actually working on facial recognition regulations; it makes a lot of sense to regulate that.

“It’s a perfect example of something that has really positive uses, so you don’t want to put the brakes on it,” added Bezos, according to Recode.

“But, at the same time, there’s also potential for abuses of that kind of technology, so you do want regulations. It’s a classic dual-use kind of technology,” he told the reporters.

The announcement to write own regulations for the face recognition technology which been in the controversy for long did not go well with the activist groups.

“Amazon wants to write the laws governing facial recognition to make sure they’re friendly to their surveillance-driven business model,” Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, was quoted as saying in a Fox News report.

“This type of technology is uniquely dangerous. It poses a profound threat to the future of human liberty that can’t be mitigated by industry-friendly regulations,” he added.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the tech giant needs to do more than propose a legislation.

Facial recognition technology is used to screen people before they visit the Statue of Liberty in New York, US.
Facial recognition technology is used to screen people before they visit the Statue of Liberty in New York, US.. Flickr

“If Amazon is really interested in preventing these dangers, the first thing it should do is stop pushing surveillance tools into our communities without regard for the impact,” the ACLU’s senior legislative counsel Neema Singh Guliani said in a statement.

Amazon isn’t the only tech company calling for regulating the facial recognition technology.

Microsoft and its President Brad Smith are also urging governments to enact legislation regarding the technology.

The tech industry needs to step up and do more to address challenges related to regulation, said Smith in his new book titled “Tools and Weapons”.

Given the potential for abuse of the fast advancing facial recognition technology, governments across the world need to start adopting laws to regulate this technology in 2019, Smith said last year.

“Unless we act, we risk waking up five years from now to find that facial recognition services have spread in ways that exacerbate societal issues,” warned Smith in a blog post.

“The use of facial recognition technology by a government for mass surveillance can encroach on democratic freedoms,” he said in December last year.

Also Read: Here’s How WhatsApp was Extensively Abused During Elections in India

Amazon has also defended the face recognition.

New technology should not be banned or condemned because of its potential misuse. Instead, there should be open, honest, and earnest dialogue among all parties involved to ensure that the technology is applied appropriately and is continuously enhanced,” the company said in a February blog post.

Amazon offers “Rekognition” — a facial recognition tool that has been used to spot criminals.

In August, the ACLU found that “Rekognition” tool wrongly flagged more than two dozen California lawmakers as criminal. In another test last year, it marked 28 members of Congress as criminals. (IANS)

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US Lawmakers Ask Jeff Bezos to Stop Sale of ‘Deadly Stuff’ on Amazon

The lawmakers asked Bezos to reply to their questions by September 29

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos walks onstage in Seattle. Source-VOA

Taking cognizance of a media report that exposed how Amazon facilitated trade of unsafe, banned products on its platform, three lawmakers in the US have written to the e-commerce giant’s CEO Jeff Bezos, urging him to take swift action to stop wrongful sale of “deadly” products.

“Unquestionably, Amazon is falling short of its commitment to keeping safe those consumers who use its massive platform,” the three Senate Democrats wrote in the latter sent to Bezos on Thursday.

The letter mentioned the recent investigation by the Wall Street Journal that found more than 4,000 items for sale on Amazon’s site that “have been declared unsafe by federal agencies, are deceptively labelled, or are banned by federal regulators.”

The investigation revealed the availability of myriad problematic items on the e-commerce site including defective helmets, toys and cosmetics incorrectly labelled as US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved, unregistered pesticides, and pain relievers lacking appropriate FDA warning labels, among others.

The letter mentioned the traumatic story of a family whose life Amazon’s negligence changed forever.

The incident involved 23-year-old Albert Stokes who died in a motorcycle crash in 2014 when his helmet came off. The helmet, purchased from Amazon, was not compliant with federal safety standards and had been recalled.

e-commerce
Security guards stand at the reception desk of the Amazon India office in Bengaluru, India, Aug. 14, 2015. VOA

While the helmet in question has been removed from Amazon’s site, many other problematic items remain on Amazon’s platform, the letter mentioned.

Senators Richard Blumenthal, Robert Menendez and Edward Markey asked why the safety efforts at Amazon have failed to prevent the sale of mislabelled, recalled and other unsafe products.

Also Read: Nokia Tops the Chart When it Comes to Updating Smartphone Software

They also asked what steps Amazon is taking to identify and remove problematic items from the platform.

The lawmakers asked Bezos to reply to their questions by September 29.

In response to the WSJ report, Amazon is blog post said that it invests “significant resources to protect our customers and have built robust programmes designed to ensure products offered for sale in our store are safe and compliant.” (IANS)