The Orlando Police Department is giving up on its trial deployment of Amazon’s Rekognition platform, once again ending its on again/off again relationship with the tech giant.
The facial recognition tech was supposed to be part of a surveillance pilot that would allow the OPD to track suspicious individuals through the city in real time. Instead, the pilot has been abandoned because it failed spectacularly.
The OPD was never able to get the system up and running, nor was it able to carry out a single live test of the technology. The trial was carried out using existing OPD cameras, and it proved to be too difficult and expensive to configure Rekognition for Orlando’s network. The OPD has indicated that it has no plans to restart the program in the foreseeable future.
The news brings the controversial partnership to an ignominious conclusion. The agreement between Amazon and the OPD was first revealed by the ACLU, and continued despite objections from Amazon employees and Amazon shareholders, who both asked the company to stop selling Rekognition to law enforcement.
The outcry against facial recognition is likely to intensify in the wake of another high-profile failure, with doubts about the accuracy and the ethics of facial recognition surveillance leading to recent bans in Oakland and San Francisco. It is now becoming increasingly clear that companies like Amazon will have to make dramatic improvements if they want to win over a skeptical public.
July 19, 2019 – by Eric Weiss