Yes, Amazon Is Tracking People

Matthew Feeney:

When most people think of the tech giant Amazon, they think of an innovative, consumer-friendly company responsible for affordable deliveries. Recent news is shattering that image.

According to documents obtained by American Civil Liberties Union affiliates in three states, Amazon is providing police departments in Orlando, Fla., and Washington County, Ore., with powerful facial recognition technology.

The documents show that the company’s interests go beyond efficient shopping, and should serve as a reminder not only that police departments ought to be prohibited from using real-time facial recognition technology, but also that most lawmakers have been asleep at the wheel when it comes to the proliferation of surveillance technology

Amazon’s facial recognition service, Rekognition, is designed to identify and track people going about their daily business. This isn’t hyperbole – a Rekognition spokesperson explicitly mentioned real-time tracking and identification at an Amazon Web Services summit earlier this year. The same spokesperson went on to call Orlando a “smart city,” with cameras everywhere that allow authorities to track persons of interest in real time.