Technology 3 min read

Police Commit Rights Abuse Using Amazon Rekognition Tech

ArtOlympic /

ArtOlympic /

According to recent reports, law enforcement agencies are misusing Amazon’s facial recognition technology – Rekognition.

Back in 2017, Amazon’s facial recognition tool became available to law enforcement agencies. The sheriff’s office in Washington County, Oregon was the first law enforcement agency to gain access to this tech.

In March 2019, two years after the law enforcement agency had been using Rekognition, the office offered journalists a chance to witness the technology first-hand. The Washington Post was granted two-days access to observe how the facial recognition tool was transforming operations.

In a startling discovery, the journalist noted that the law enforcement agency is already misusing the tech. Whether it’s identifying unconscious suspects, people who refuse to produce an ID, police sketches of faces, or even dead bodies, Rekognition is now being used in ways Amazon never intended.

How Amazon Expects Law Enforcement To Use Rekognition

According to Amazon, law enforcement agencies are only supposed to use the Rekognition’s result when the tech is 99 percent confident in a match.

The guidelines Amazon provided show that running police sketches through the facial recognition tool is acceptable. However, the company explains that the human reviewing the result must “pay close attention to the confidence of any matches produced this way.”

The guidelines also state that the search “shouldn’t be used as the sole determinant for taking action.”

However, Washington Post’s detailed report revealed that Washington County officers don’t see the search-confidence metric when using the system. Regardless of whether the input is a sketch or a photo, the officers now have to select from five most likely matches for a search.

According to AI experts, not only could this lead to false matches, but it could also encourage officers to force their investigation to align with the false matches.

Speaking to Washington Post, chief deputy defender with Oregon’s Office of Public Defense Service, Marc Brown said:

“You’ve already been told that this is the one, so when you investigate, that’s going to be in your mind. The question is no longer who committed the crime, but where’s the evidence to support the computer’s analysis?”

Facial Recognition Technology in Law Enforcement; The Ethical Violations

Aside from the possibility of making false arrests, the use of Rekognition also raises civil rights issues.

Basically, with every use of Rekognition on an unconscious suspect, or someone that refuses to produce an ID (an act that’s not illegal in the state of Oregon), consent seems to matter less.

In the end, legislators may have to regulate the facial recognition tool to prevent law enforcement from arresting the innocent and violating their civil rights.

Read More: Japanese Taxis Use Facial Recognition to Create Targeted Ads

First AI Web Content Optimization Platform Just for Writers

Found this article interesting?

Let Sumbo Bello know how much you appreciate this article by clicking the heart icon and by sharing this article on social media.

Profile Image

Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

Comments (0)
Most Recent most recent
share Scroll to top

Link Copied Successfully

Sign in

Sign in to access your personalized homepage, follow authors and topics you love, and clap for stories that matter to you.

Sign in with Google Sign in with Facebook

By using our site you agree to our privacy policy.