After a trial of an Amazon-created facial recognition technology program — called Rekognition — the city of Orlando, Florida’s police department has announced that it will no longer employ the technology amid criticism from privacy advocates.
The software, which compares images supplied by customers to images held in a database that the customer has also provided, looks for a match between images. However, the technology is facing criticism from privacy advocates concerned that the tech might be used to identify immigrants, protestors and people going about their usual business. As such, the ACLU has recently called for Amazon to stop selling the program.
While the Orlando police department is dropping the technology, they aren’t completely abandoning it, with promises to use the technology when the department feels it is necessary, they noted in a recent statement.
"Partnering with innovative companies to test new technology — while also ensuring we uphold privacy laws and in no way violate the rights of others — is critical to us as we work to further keep our community safe," the statement read.
During the trial, a database using images of Orlando police officers was created and those images were then compared with the images of those same officers captured from eight city-owned surveillance cameras to test whether the program could correctly match the images.
Yet, while the Orlando Police Department has assured that the technology was not used to identify members of the public, the Florida ACLU believes that eventually the testing would likely be opened up to include the public.
"No City policies or rules meaningfully restrict the Police Department from rapidly expanding the system in the near future by, for example, activating it across the City's public-facing cameras or adding it to the many body cameras Orlando police officers use every day," the letter said.