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U.S. Department of Defense (Public Domain)

Amazon is trying to solve pushback on facial recognition software with a web form

The discovery comes amid heightened scrutiny of the surveillance method.


Mikael Thalen

Layer 8

Posted on May 23, 2019   Updated on May 20, 2021, 11:58 am CDT

Have you been falsely targeted by Amazon’s facial recognition technology? There’s a web form for that.

As discovered this week by Matt Cagle, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, Amazon has published a page online for those wishing to report abuses of Rekognition, the online retail giant’s surveillance tool used by law enforcement worldwide.

“Amazon is placing the burden on communities to report abuse they may never discover by [government] clients Amazon refuses to disclose,” Cagle tweeted on Tuesday.


The form requests that users provide everything from a name, business email, and phone number to a description of the alleged abuse.

“If you suspect your rights or the rights of others have been infringed upon as a result of the use of Amazon Rekognition, or any other abusive or illegal use of the service, please contact us through the form below,” the page states, promising to keep all entries confidential. “Please include as many details as possible including observed date and time of suspected abuse, as well as any customer details you may have.”

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, an Amazon spokesperson confirmed that the page was published at some point this year.

“We’ve always had the ability for customers to report suspected misuse of our services. Earlier this year we added a specific reporting process for Rekognition,” the spokesperson said. “We also continue to support the calls for an appropriate national legislative framework that protects individual civil rights and ensures that governments are transparent in their use of facial recognition technology.”

Discovery of the page came just one day before Amazon shareholders voted on Wednesday not to stop the sale of Rekognition to law enforcement. The proposal centered around whether the tool should be temporarily shelved while proper research was done into the technology’s implications.

Also on Wednesday, lawmakers held a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing where a rare show of bipartisanship saw both Democrats and Republicans come out against facial recognition.

Amazon’s Rekognition has frequently been criticized for concerns over its accuracy. A recent study from researchers at MIT found that the tool often failed to accurately identify dark-skinned individuals. Another study conducted by the ACLU last year found it falsely matched 28 members of Congress with criminal mugshots.


H/T BuzzFeed News

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*First Published: May 23, 2019, 6:56 pm CDT