(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc on Wednesday said it was implementing a one-year moratorium on police use of its facial recognition software, a reversal of its long-time defense of law enforcement’s use of the technology.
The announcement came as activists have been voicing concern that facial recognition could lead to unjust arrests during demonstrations against police brutality, racial injustice and the death of George Floyd.
Critics have questioned the accuracy of the technology, pointing to Amazon’s “Rekognition” service that had struggled to identify the gender of individuals with darker skin in a past study. Amazon has taken issue with that research.
The company, which sells cloud computing technology via its Amazon Web Services division, said in a statement that it has pushed for regulations to ensure the technology was used ethically.
“We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested,” Amazon said.
Reporting by Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru and Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco; Editing by Anil D’Silva and David Gregorio.