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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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Social Networking Giant Facebook Blames Apple iOS for Bezos’ Phone Hacking

WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption by default, which means only the sender and recipient can view the messages

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

Facebook has blamed Apple’s operating system for the hacking of Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone, saying WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is unhackable.

Investigators believe that Bezos’s iPhone was compromised after he received a 4.4MB video file containing malware via WhatsApp – in the same way when phones of 1,400 select journalists and human rights activists were broken into by Pegasus software from Israel-based NSO Group last year.

In an interview to the BBC last week, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications, Nick Clegg, said it wasn’t WhatsApp’s fault because end-to-end encryption is unhackable and blamed Apple’s operating system for Bezos’ episode.

“It sounds like something on the, you know, what they call the operate, operated on the phone itself. It can’t have been anything on the, when the message was sent, in transit, because that’s end-to-end encrypted on WhatsApp,” Clegg told the show host.

Clegg compared the hack to opening a malicious email, saying that “it only comes to life when you open it”.

According to a report from FTI Consulting, a firm that has investigated Bezos’ phone, after that the video file was received, Bezos’ phone started sending unusually large amounts of outbound data, including his intimate messages with his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of Blue Origin. (Wikimedia commons)

According to Clegg, “something” must have affected the phone’s operating system.

“As sure as you can be that the technology of end-to-end encryption cannot, other than unless you have handset, or you have the message at either end, cannot be hacked into,” he was quoted as saying.

Apple was yet to comment on Facebook’s statement.

The NSO Group has denied it was part of Bezos’ hacking.

Also Read: Here Are Some Life Lessons That We Can Learn From Freedom Fighters this Republic Day

WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption by default, which means only the sender and recipient can view the messages. But the piece of NSO Group software exploited WhatsApp’s video calling system by installing the spyware via missed calls to snoop on the selected users.

According to leading tech policy and media consultant Prasanto K. Roy, end-to-end encrypted apps (E2EE) do provide security, and messages or calls cannot be intercepted and decrypted en route without enormous computing resources.

“But once anyone can get to your handset, whether a human or a piece of software, the encryption doesn’t matter anymore. Because on your handset, it’s all decrypted,” Roy told IANS recently. (IANS)