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ICE met with Amazon to discuss using its facial recognition tech

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Immigration activists march outside of the Department of Justice in DC last month.
Immigration
activists march outside of the Department of Justice in DC last
month.

Richard
Vogel/Reuters


  • Amazon met with ICE officials in June to discuss the
    potential use of its real-time facial
    recognition surveillance technology known as “Rekognition,”
    according to a report by The Daily Beast. 
  • The meeting was held at a McKinsey &
    Company office in Redwood City, California, as ICE and the
    consulting firm had a contract that ended this summer. 
  • The report suggests concerns that the technology could be
    used by ICE to target immigrants near “sensitive locations” like
    medical facilities and houses of worship. 
  • ICE does not have any public contracts with Amazon today
    for Rekognition. 

Amazon
met with officials from the U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) this summer to discuss the potential use of its
real-time facial recognition surveillance technology known
as “Rekognition,” according to a report by
The Daily Beast
and documents obtained by the Project on
Government Oversight. 

The Daily Beast report raises concerns that the technology could
be used by ICE to target immigrants near “sensitive locations”
like medical facilities and houses of worship, which is
discouraged by official
policy
but has been carried out under the current
administration. 

The report also cites multiple studies, including one from the

ACLU
, that shows Amazon’s Rekognition — which attempts in
real-time to identify people by scanning faces in a video
feed — often misidentifies individuals and does so at a
disproportionate rate for people of color.

The meeting between ICE and Amazon Web Service took place at the
McKinsey & Company offices in Redwood City,
California this June, according to the report. ICE and McKinsey
had a management contract that ended this summer, and it had been
previously unreported that the consulting firm had suggested ICE
adopt the cutting edge facial recognition technologies, The Daily
Beast said.

One former ICE official quoted in the report voiced concerned
that immigration officers could abuse the technology, relying on
Rekogition to make arrests rather than what Amazon claims its
intended purpose of being “the first step in identifying an
individual.” 

Amazon did not immediately return Business Insider’s
request for comment. 
ICE told The Daily Beast it does
not have any public contracts with Amazon today for the
facial recognition technology. 

In an anonymous
Medium post
last week, one Amazon employee warned that the
company’s facial recognition tech should not be used to police,
especially given that it is more likely to misidentify
people with darker skin. 

Amazon has
publicly refuted
the ACLU’s research and just last week in an

interview with Wired
, CEO Jeff Bezos defended his company
working with government agencies, like the Department of
Defence. Bezos did, however, try to distance himself from
the ICE discussion by saying, “I’d let them in if it was me, I
like ‘em, I want all of them in.”

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