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Markey to Amazon: Get Out of 'Dangerous Surveillance' Business

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a long-time advocate for consumer privacy, says Amazon's decision this week to suspend supplying facial recognition (branded "Rekognition") tech to police is good as far as it goes, but suggests that is not nearly far enough, likening surveillance to the damaging government systems protesters are currently working to dismantle.. 

Markey has been among those expressing concerns about the use of facial recognition software to potentially stifle the free speech of protesters currently organizing to oppose racial injustice.  

As he noted, Markey has long pressed Amazon on the potential misuse, and accuracy, of its Rekognition technology. 

Related: Markey Seeks Bezos Answers on Ring Partnership with Law Enforcement 

“For nearly two years, I have been sounding the alarm about Amazon’s problematic surveillance tools, demanding the company address concerns that its facial recognition technologies have deeply troubling accuracy and bias issues that pose particularly high risks to Black and Brown individuals,” said Markey. “Their products have the alarming potential to infringe on Americans’ privacy rights in ways that we would have thought unimaginable not long ago. Pressing pause on the use of this technology by law enforcement is a positive step, but what Amazon should really do is a complete about-face and get out of the business of dangerous surveillance altogether. That means also making wholesale changes to its Amazon Ring products and Neighbors app because the policies governing those offerings are an open door for privacy and civil liberty violations." 

He said that as protesters demand "dismantling damaging systems," Amazon has "considerable work to do."