Congressman calls Amazon’s facial recognition moratorium ‘protestant’

Sometimes, you have to call BS.

That seems to be the thinking of Congressman Jimmy Gomez of California, who shared a letter dated June 17(opens in a new tab) Addressing Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos sought specifics on his company’s reported year-long moratorium on providing its facial recognition equipment to police. Because when it comes to Amazon’s big June 10th announcement, sadly, there isn’t one.

Lest we forget, earlier this month Amazon tried to make waves by claiming(opens in a new tab) It will stop giving recognition to the police for one year. Importantly, Mashable and Amazon as critics(opens in a new tab) It was reported at the time that the pledge was half-hearted, notably lacking.

Representative Gomez, it appears, agreed.

The Congress leader’s follow-up letter asked the tech behemoth basic questions that should have been answered in the company’s opening headlines. There are many, and it’s worth listing them here to give you an idea of ​​just how dumb Amazon’s initial announcement really was.

[The] The 102-word blog post announcement fails to specify whether Amazon will stop selling accreditation to police departments during the moratorium; whether the company will stop the development of its facial recognition system during the moratorium; whether the moratorium would include both local and federal law enforcement agencies beyond the police, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); whether the moratorium applies to existing contracts with law enforcement agencies; and whether Amazon plans to submit its technology to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for testing before resuming operations.

And Representative Gomez wasn’t done there. He added that Amazon’s purported willingness to bow to federal regulation on the sale and use of facial recognition technology fits neatly into a growing list of “performative” corporate gestures following the police killing of George Floyd.

We reached out to Amazon, both for a response to Rep. Gomez’s letter and to find out if it intends to answer those questions, but did not receive an immediate response. When reached for comment following the light-on-details of the June 10 announcement, an Amazon spokesperson at the time replied simply, “We’re not saying anything further at this time.”

See also: Amazon reportedly facing new probe in California, Washington

Hopefully Amazon was saving its apparently precious words so it could better respond to an elected official like Representative Gomez, but we’re not counting on it.

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