Amazon has said it supports "transparency" in the use of face recognition by law enforcement agencies and would support an "appropriate" legislative framework governing the technology to protect civil rights.
"Facial recognition should always be used in accordance with the law, including laws that protect civil rights".
Writing about oversight and guidelines, Amazon Web Services VP of Global Public Policy, Michael Punke, says they need to make sure facial recognition isn't used for discrimination.
In less controversial settings, facial recognition tech is also used to unlock Apple iPhones using the Face ID feature and to check travelers' identities at government kiosks at U.S. airports.
Punke stressed the benefits of facial-recognitions systems, like finding missing children and identifying suspects in crimes.
Now there are no federal rules regarding the use of facial recognition technology which is why Washington lawmakers are considering creating their own bill to regulate its use.
"To create the greatest public confidence in responsible law enforcement use of facial recognition, we encourage law enforcement entities to be transparent about their use of the technology and to describe this use in regular transparency reports", Punke writes.
The company's comments are the latest to address controversies around the use of automated face recognition technology by law enforcement, which is seen by some as infringing on citizens' rights, for instance in cases where it may misidentify individuals. The company is engaging with NIST and other stakeholders, and supports efforts by academics to establish independent trusted criteria, benchmarks, and evaluation protocols for facial recognition.
"New technology should not be banned or condemned because of its potential misuse". We're also committed to educating customers on best practices, and ensuring diverse perspectives in our technology development teams.
"We will record a 5-second video of your face, " read the prompt which the seller later shared with BuzzFeed News via a screenshot.
Totally tight-lipped about its newly reported policy of collecting seller facial videos, Amazon also refused to elaborate on whether it had gone to make the required changes to its seller agreements and privacy policies before collecting and storing biometric data. "The video will be encrypted and stored for identification objective".
However, not everyone believes Amazon is acting in good faith.
Facial recognition to verify seller identity?
ACLU of Norther California Technology and Civil Liberties Attorney Matt Cagle wonders if Amazon is using the data for purposes beyond seller verification.
"Amazon should make it crystal clear they are not exploiting this sensitive face data to, for example, enrich the face surveillance product that a coalition of 90 groups just demanded the company stop providing to governments".