Amazon shareholders will continue selling the company’s facial recognition technology “Rekognition” to governments and law enforcement agencies.
During the e-commerce giant’s annual meeting Wednesday, shareholders rejected all proposals including two related to Rekognition, Amazon confirmed to USA TODAY.
One proposed banning the sales of the technology and the other called for the company to conduct an independent study and issue a report on the risks of governments using the technology.
Amazon did not release shareholder vote totals Wednesday but said information would be filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission later in the week.
Also Wednesday, the House Oversight and Reform Committee held a first hearing on facial recognition technology to “examine the impact on civil rights and liberties.”
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Tech ban: San Francisco bans police and city use of face recognition technology
The years-long debate over the use – and potential misuse – of facial recognition has been heating up lately.
Last week, San Francisco became the first major municipality in the U.S. to ban use of the technology by local law enforcement.
A group of 78 AI experts and researchers signed an open letter on Medium in March about the “increased public concern over the accuracy and use of new face recognition systems.”
Critics point to false positives, or people being misidentified, particularly among minorities.
Findings from an MIT study claim the Amazon Rekognition system has performed poorly compared to Microsoft and IBM in identifying a female’s gender and faces from darker-skinned people.
Amazon Web Services global vice president for public policy Michael Punke has disputed the findings but also has called for transparency.
“To create the greatest public confidence in responsible law enforcement use of facial recognition, we encourage law enforcement entities to be transparent about their use of the technology and to describe this use in regular transparency reports,” Punke wrote in a February Amazon blog post.
Contributing: Edward C. Baig
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko