New era of surveillance is about to begin: ACLU


Modern technology allows face, voice and biometric recognition at the production scale. It allows to link already-present technology, as CCTV cam networks to the recognition cloud software. As a result we can expect a breakthrough in crime and terror investigation – and a huge potential for a total control and loss of civil liberty. ACLU is increasingly worried about the Amazon’s “Rekognition” which is capable to work in real time and to recognize and identify hundred people on a single CCTV frame.

Moreover Amazon sees that the main market for the “Rekognition” will be the governmental agencies use. Company brochures describe use by law enforcement agencies as common case. It is already in use in Orlando and Oregon.

ACLU officials note:

With Rekognition, a government can now build a system to automate the identification and tracking of anyone. If police body cameras, for example, were outfitted with facial recognition, devices intended for officer transparency and accountability would further transform into surveillance machines aimed at the public. With this technology, police would be able to determine who attends protests. ICE could seek to continuously monitor immigrants as they embark on new lives. Cities might routinely track their own residents, whether they have reason to suspect criminal activity or not. As with other surveillance technologies, these systems are certain to be disproportionately aimed at minority communities.

As for now ACLU and Jeff Bezos are in ping-pong of polite letters. Civil liberty union and other privacy advocates urge Amazon to stop selling the Rekognition to state agencies. Amazon responds by underlining total compliance with the law while selling the software and services:

Amazon requires that customers comply with the law and be responsible when they use AWS services. When we find that AWS services are being abused by a customer, we suspend that customer’s right to use our services. Amazon Rekognition is a technology that helps automate recognizing people, objects, and activities in video and photos based on inputs provided by the customer. For example, if the customer provided images of a chair, Rekognition could help find other chair images in a library of photos uploaded by the customer. As a technology, Amazon Rekognition has many useful applications in the real world (e.g., various agencies have used Rekognition to find abducted people, amusement parks use Rekognition to find lost children, the royal wedding that just occurred this past weekend used Rekognition to identify wedding attendees, etc.).

Generally, the technology can’t be stopped and the total surveillance is imminent. Combination of Big Data and total surveillance in real life will yield colossal results – and thus it is unable to stop it on its trail.

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