- The Washington Times - Friday, September 6, 2019

Sen. Edward Markey expressed worries Thursday that Amazon’s video doorbell Ring and its partnership with law enforcement could lead to increased racial profiling, particularly with people of color.

Mr. Markey wrote a letter to Amazon’s chief executive saying he was “alarmed to learn that Ring is pursuing facial recognition technology” and offering police departments access to Rekognition, their face-matching program.

The Massachusetts Democrat added the technology raises “serious privacy and civil liberties concern” that “could easily create a surveillance network that places dangerous burdens on people of color” in areas where Ring has partnered with police officials.

Although Amazon markets Ring as America’s ‘new neighborhood watch,’ the technology captures and stores video from millions of households and sweeps up footage of countless bystanders who may be unaware that they are being filmed,” he wrote.

“A product like this has the potential to catalyze racial profiling and harm people of color,” he added.

A 2018 study done by the American Civil Liberties Union found Amazon Rekognition incorrectly identified 28 lawmakers as people charged with a crime, including Mr. Markey.

“This test confirms that facial recognition is flawed, biased and dangerous,” said Jacob Snow, a lawyer for the A.C.L.U. of Northern California.

An Amazon spokesperson told The New York Times the A.C.L.U. used their technology passed the recommendations they give to law enforcement, adding it’s meant to “narrow the field” and not identify someone outright.

Ring told USA Today they are reviewing Mr. Markey’s letter.


• Bailey Vogt can be reached at bvogt@washingtontimes.com.

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