OPD, Amazon Play Down Rekognition Use After ACLU Report

“Responding to the report, the Orlando Police Department’s chief, John Mina, held a press conference at which he insisted that his department was only testing the technology, with seven officers having volunteered to have their faces tracked through OPD cameras.”

OPD, Amazon Play Down Rekognition Use After ACLU Report

Amazon and the Orlando Police Department are playing down the use of facial recognition technology after a fiery report from the American Civil Liberties Union earlier this week.

The ACLU had cited a number of areas in which government agencies were now using or considering the use of Rekognition, a machine vision system available through Amazon Web Services. Calling such deployments a threat to civil liberties and privacy, the ACLU focused its ire not on the government agencies themselves but on Amazon, seeking to shame the company into halting its sales of facial recognition technology to police and other government agencies.

Responding to the report, the Orlando Police Department’s chief, John Mina, held a press conference at which he insisted that his department was only testing the technology, with seven officers having volunteered to have their faces tracked through OPD cameras. Mina had previously suggested the OPD was only testing the system at its headquarters, but the Department has since clarified that it’s also being used through three publicly deployed cameras. In his press conference, Mina said that the Department would publicly disclose the locations of these cameras; but the OPD has since declined to do so due to security concerns.

Amazon, meanwhile, has also done some backtracking. As The Verge reports, much of the information concerning the OPD’s use of Rekognition was initially derived from an AWS Summit talk in which one of its executives suggested that the system had been deployed through “cameras all over the city” to track persons of interest. Amazon has now added a note to its YouTube video asserting that the executive “misspoke about the City of Orlando’s use of AWS technologies.”

Sources: The Verge, Engadget

May 25, 2018 – by Alex Perala