Friday, 27 July 2018 10:14

Amazon facial recognition tech identifies US pollies as criminals Featured

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The 28 members of Congress whose images were tested by the ACLU. The 28 members of Congress whose images were tested by the ACLU. ACLU

Amazon's face surveillance technology, Rekognition, failed to identify 28 current US politicians, instead labelling them as people who had been arrested for crimes.

The American Civil Liberties Union carried out the test and used a database of mugshots which included both Democrats and Republicans, men and women, of all ages and from all across the country.

In a statement, the ACLU said the mismatches were predominantly of people of colour, including six members of the Congressional Black Caucus, among them the civil rights pioneer John Lewis.

Jacob Snow, technology and civil liberties attorney, said the test had been carried out using the same facial recognition system that is offered to the public by Amazon. Running the test cost US$12.33.

"Using Rekognition, we built a face database and search tool using 25,000 publicly available arrest photos," Snow said.

rekognition how

"Then we searched that database against public photos of every current member of the House and Senate. We used the default match settings that Amazon sets for Rekognition."

The list of members of Congress falsely matched with arrest photos

Senate

  • John Isakson (R-Georgia)
  • Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts)
  • Pat Roberts (R-Kansas)

House of Representatives

  • Sanford Bishop (D-Georgia)
  • George Butterfield (D-North Carolina)
  • Lacy Clay (D-Missouri)
  • Mark DeSaulnier (D-California)
  • Adriano Espaillat (D-New York)
  • Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona)
  • Thomas Garrett (R-Virginia)
  • Greg Gianforte (R-Montana)
  • Jimmy Gomez (D-California)
  • Raúl Grijalva (D-Arizona)
  • Luis Gutiérrez (D-Illinois)
  • Steve Knight (R-California)
  • Leonard Lance (R-New Jersey)
  • John Lewis (D-Georgia)
  • Frank LoBiondo (R-New Jersey)
  • David Loebsack (D-Iowa)
  • David McKinley (R-West Virginia)
  • John Moolenaar (R-Michigan)
  • Tom Reed (R-New York)
  • Bobby Rush (D-Illinois)
  • Norma Torres (D-California)
  • Marc Veasey (D-Texas)
  • Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio)
  • Steve Womack (R-Arkansas)
  • Lee Zeldin (R-New York)

Graphics: courtesy ACLU

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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