A recent attempted shareholder revolt by Amazon’s sale of Rekognition, a facial recognition technology, to police was squashed when put to vote.
At the annual general meeting, the vote for whether to sell Rekognition to police or not yielded a massive 97.6% for (327 million votes) and only 2.4% against (8.3 million votes), as revealed in a corporate filing.
Amazon has noted that it is currently aware of the civil rights concerns but has not received any reports of law enforcement misusing Rekognition tools so far.
Despite not having any untoward reports so far, Rekognition and facial recognition tech like it are under further scrutiny.
For example, last week, Democrat and Republican politicians on the House Oversight Committee spoke about concerns over the speed of Amazon’s facial recognition facility and other companies’ deployment into public surveillance.
As Democrat congressman Jimmy Gomez noted, “My office has had nine meetings with representatives from Amazon. We asked questions of experts across the spectrum, and my concerns only grow day by day. Shareholders did not end up passing a ban on Rekognition… and you know what? That just means it’s more important Congress acts.”
In addition, Jim Jordan, a Republican congressman, spoke up saying, “It is virtually unregulated but I think that frankly that needs to change.”
In response, Amazon has said that lawmakers should control facial recognition restrictions, not companies.
“To the extent there may be ambiguities or uncertainties in how existing laws should apply to facial recognition technology, we have and will continue to offer our support to policymakers and legislators in identifying areas to develop guidance or legislation to clarity the proper application of those laws,” Amazon noted.
It appears that unlike other tech companies, Amazon will not be halting its sale of facial recognition technologies to government entities — at least until stronger laws are passed.