Amazon’s Facial Recognition Technology Misidentified Several Boston Athletes As Criminals

The Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said Amazon’s facial recognition technology, Rekognition, falsely matched almost 30 professional Boston athletes to individuals in a mugshot database, as well as mistook one in five California lawmakers for criminals earlier this year, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Last week, the Massachusetts ACLU chapter announced that they compared headshots of 188 athletes from New England professional sports teams to a database of 20,000 mugshots. The teams included the Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics, New England Patriots, and the Boston Red Sox. Of the 188 athletes, 27 of them were falsely matched to the mugshots, including Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale, Patriots running back James White, Patriots wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, and Patriots defensive back Duron Harmon.

Kade Crockford, director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, said with this study they hoped to demonstrate why Rekognition should not be relied on by the government without protections. “The results of this scan add to the mounting evidence that unregulated face surveillance technology in the hands of government agencies is a serious threat to individual rights, due process, and democratic freedoms,” Crockford said in a statement. “Face surveillance is dangerous when it doesn’t work, and when it does.”

However, in a statement to 7 News Boston, Amazon Web Services said the ACLU chapter was “misrepresenting” its facial recognition technology. “As we’ve said many times in the past when used with the recommended 99 percent confidence threshold and as one part of a human-driven decision, facial recognition technology can be used for a long list of beneficial purposes, from assisting in the identification of criminals to helping find missing children to inhibiting human trafficking. We continue to advocate for federal legislation of facial recognition technology to ensure responsible use.”

New England Patriots safety Duron Harmon said in a statement provided by the ACLU, “This technology is flawed. If it misidentified me, my teammates, and other professional athletes in an experiment, imagine the real-life impact of false matches. This technology should not be used by the government without protections.”

The ACLU used an 80% similarity threshold for its tests, which it says is Rekognition’s default setting. Amazon says it recommends law enforcement use a 99% threshold, meaning the software will not match a subject’s face to a mugshot unless it’s 99% certain that the match is accurate.

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Amazon’s Facial Recognition Technology Misidentified Several Boston Athletes As Criminals Amazon’s Facial Recognition Technology Misidentified Several Boston Athletes As Criminals Reviewed by Black America Press on October 27, 2019 Rating: 5

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