Orlando Police to Proceed with Rekognition Testing

“In its memo, the OPD said that the next trial would operate similarly to the first, in which seven police officers volunteered to have their faces scanned by the system.”

Orlando Police to Proceed with Rekognition Testing

The Orlando Police Department will continue to test facial recognition technology from Amazon despite the recent outcry from privacy and civil rights advocates over the technology.

The news comes by way of a memo sent from the OPD to the city council and mayor last week, in which the OPD explained that it will embark on an additional trial of Amazon’s Rekognition system now that the first trial period has expired, in a bid to more fully evaluate its effectiveness. The OPD is using the technology as a surveillance tool that could identify individuals through CCTV feeds.

In its memo, the OPD said that the next trial would operate similarly to the first, in which seven police officers volunteered to have their faces scanned by the system.

The OPD’s testing of the technology caused some controversy when it was revealed in an ACLU report in May, prompting privacy and civil rights advocates to urge the police authorities to halt their use of biometric surveillance. But perhaps more outrage was aimed at Amazon, with many of the company’s own shareholders and employees eventually calling on the company to stop selling Rekognition to the government.

In outlining their decision to move forward with more testing, OPD officials emphasized the public security benefits that this kind of facial recognition technology has to offer, with OPD Deputy Chief Mark Canty insisting that if the agency decides to deploy Rekognition, it will “set parameters in place where it’s not going to be abused,” adding, “That’s the time where we would have maybe some public input in our policies and listen to their concerns.”

The OPD’s chief of police, John Mina, had previously said that Rekognition was only being tested at its headquarters, when in fact it was tested through public CCTV feeds. Later, he said the OPD would disclose the locations of these cameras, but the OPD subsequently declined to do so.

Sources: Orlando Sentinel, USA Today

July 10, 2018 – by Alex Perala