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ACLU slams 'nightmarish' Amazon patent application to bring facial recognition to your front door

ACLU slams 'nightmarish' Amazon patent application to bring facial recognition to your front door

Postby smix » Sat Dec 15, 2018 6:52 pm

ACLU slams 'nightmarish' Amazon patent application to bring facial recognition to your front door
Fox News

URL: https://www.foxnews.com/tech/aclu-slams ... front-door
Category: Privacy
Published: December 13, 2018

Description: A patent application from Amazon to pair its facial recognition technology with a doorbell camera company that Amazon acquired has privacy advocates saying the company is building a perfect tool for authoritarian surveillance. The patent application, which was filed by doorbell company Ring prior to being purchased by Amazon earlier this year, shows a system that law enforcement officers can use to match faces of people walking by your house who might be deemed "suspicious." Homeowners could add photographs into the system, potentially allowing the doorbell's facial recognition program to scan anyone who walks by. If a match occurs, that information could be sent to the police, who could arrive in minutes. A former patent litigator who works for the ACLU in Northern California described it as "disturbing" on the civil liberties group's website. "It’s rare for patent applications to lay out, in such nightmarish detail, the world a company wants to bring about," said Jacob Snow, a technology and civil liberties attorney at the ACLU. "Amazon is dreaming of a dangerous future, with its technology at the center of a massive decentralized surveillance network, running real-time facial recognition on members of the public using cameras installed in people’s doorbells." Amazon declined to comment for this story. The ACLU has previously called attention to Amazon's Rekognition program, which the tech giant has sold to police departments and marketed to ICE, as being discriminatory toward people of color, immigrants and the formerly incarcerated. A test found that the Rekognition system wrongly identified 28 lawmakers — most of whom were people of color — as police suspects. Amazon's facial recognition system has also been protested by its own employees and by lawmakers who worry it may be racially biased. The ACLU lawyer concludes by saying: "Amazon is building the tools for authoritarian surveillance that advocates, activists, community leaders, politicians, and experts have repeatedly warned against. It is doing so without regard for how the technology will be exploited by law enforcement, ICE, and other government agencies prone to violence and racial discrimination." A person familiar with the patent told Fox News that the filing is only an application and has not been issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; they also noted that, like most patents, it does not necessarily reflect any definitive plans for future products.
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Amazon’s Disturbing Plan to Add Face Surveillance to Your Front Door

Postby smix » Sat Dec 15, 2018 7:01 pm

Amazon’s Disturbing Plan to Add Face Surveillance to Your Front Door
American Civil Liberties Union

URL: https://www.aclu.org/blog/privacy-techn ... lance-yo-0
Category: Privacy
Published: December 12, 2018

Description: Recently, a patent application from Amazon became public that would pair face surveillance — like Rekognition, the product that the company is aggressively marketing to police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement — with Ring, a doorbell camera company that Amazon bought earlier this year. While the details are sketchy, the application describes a system that the police can use to match the faces of people walking by a doorbell camera with a photo database of persons they deem “suspicious.” Likewise, homeowners can also add photos of “suspicious” people into the system and then the doorbell’s facial recognition program will scan anyone passing their home. In either case, if a match occurs, the person’s face can be automatically sent to law enforcement, and the police could arrive in minutes. As a former patent litigator, I've spent a lot of time reading patents. It’s rare for patent applications to lay out, in such nightmarish detail, the world a company wants to bring about. Amazon is dreaming of a dangerous future, with its technology at the center of a massive decentralized surveillance network, running real-time facial recognition on members of the public using cameras installed in people’s doorbells. The ACLU and other civil rights groups have repeatedly warned that face surveillance poses an unprecedented threat to civil liberties and civil rights that must be stopped before it becomes widespread. The history of discriminatory government surveillance makes clear that face surveillance will disproportionately harm people already targeted by the government and subjected to racial profiling and abuse — immigrants, people of color, and the formerly incarcerated. The ACLU’s test is consistent with academic research demonstrating that face surveillance technology is less accurate for darker skinned faces and women. These systems threaten to further entangle people with law enforcement, ripping families apart and increasing the likelihood of racially biased police violence. In addition, this technology puts activists and protesters in danger when exercising their First Amendment rights. Despite the risks to civil liberties and racial justice, Amazon has chosen to ignore questions from members of Congress and calls from consumers, civil rights groups, and its own employees and shareholders to take responsibility for the consequences of its technology on communities where it is deployed. This patent application also suggests that Amazon has no plans to stop at identifying people based on their faces. The company anticipates targeting an arsenal of other biometrics, including fingerprints, skin-texture analysis, DNA, palm-vein analysis, hand geometry, iris recognition, odor/scent recognition, and even behavioral characteristics, like typing rhythm, gait, and voice recognition. Imagine if a neighborhood was set up with these doorbell cameras. Simply walking up to a friend’s house could result in your face, your fingerprint, or your voice being flagged as “suspicious” and delivered to a government database without your knowledge or consent. With Amazon selling the devices, operating the servers, and pushing the technology on law enforcement, the company is building all the pieces of a surveillance network, reaching from the government all the way to our front doors. Don’t expect Amazon to limit tracking technologies to doorbells or homes. The patent application makes clear that any audio/visual device — such as Amazon’s popular line of Echo products — can be outfitted with the appropriate biometric surveillance features. It confirms that Amazon wants to enable the tracking of everyone, everywhere, all the time. And it’s apparently happy to deliver that data to the government. The application also undercuts Amazon’s own purported defense of its face surveillance product. The company has told the public that biometrics should only be used by law enforcement as an aid, not a replacement, to human judgment. But Amazon’s patent application is pushing the technology toward automation, removing human judgment from the identification process, and instead potentially relying on data, like arrest photos, that itself is a record of racially discriminatory policing. Amazon is building the tools for authoritarian surveillance that advocates, activists, community leaders, politicians, and experts have repeatedly warned against. It is doing so without regard for how the technology will be exploited by law enforcement, ICE, and other government agencies prone to violence and racial discrimination. It’s time for Amazon to take responsibility and stop chasing profit at the expense of safety and civil rights.
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This patent shows Amazon may seek to create a ‘database of suspicious persons’ using facial-recognition technology

Postby smix » Sat Dec 15, 2018 7:14 pm

This patent shows Amazon may seek to create a ‘database of suspicious persons’ using facial-recognition technology
The Washington Post

URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technolo ... echnology/
Category: Privacy
Published: December 13, 2018

Description: A patent application filed by Amazon offers a vision of how doorbell cameras could be equipped with new technology that would allow the devices to gather data and identify people considered to be “suspicious.” The application — revealed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last month and first reported by CNN — describes how cameras could be used to piece together a composite image of an individual’s face, giving homeowners and police the ability to more easily identify someone who has engaged in potential criminal activity. The patent’s inventor is identified as Jamie Siminoff, the chief executive of Ring, the home security company that manufactures doorbells that record video and connect to users' smartphones. Amazon acquired Ring in February, thrusting itself into the home surveillance business. (Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.) The patent application states that home safety is a major concern for homeowners and that the presence of doorbell recording devices can be a “powerful deterrent against would-be burglars.” The application also posits other potential uses for cameras equipped with facial-recognition technology, such as comparing such facial images to a “database of suspicious persons.” If a suspicious person showed up on a homeowner’s door step, for example, the technology would then retrieve “information about that person from the database,” the application says. After analyzing someone’s facial features and contacting homeowners, the application says, the visitor could be added to an “authorized list” or a database of “suspicious persons.” The technology would also allow neighbors to share information about suspicious people, creating a cooperative neighborhood-wide surveillance system. Ring is already exploring similar technologies. In May, the company launched an app called “Neighbors,” which allows people to “view and comment on crime and security information in their communities,” according to CNET. Siminoff told CNET that the app has already amassed more than 1 million active users who are using it to swap information about crimes and criminals. “We’re seeing it become a foundation,” he said. “It enhances everything we do in the company.” Jake Snow, a technology and civil liberties attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, warned that the patent application shows the technology could be used to create “a massive, decentralized surveillance network.” “This application gave me chills,” he said, adding that Amazon is already pushing law enforcement to embrace facial-recognition technology. Snow said he believes Amazon is proceeding without considering the consequences of its technology. “Just imagine if a person who has a criminal record is delivering a package, but the system has been set to automatically recognize anyone who has a prior criminal history as a ‘suspicious person’ and then the cops show up at this place when this person is just doing their job,” Snow said. “Then you have an interaction between police and this individual, and we’ve seen how interactions between people of color and the police can turn deadly for any reason or for no reason at all.” An Amazon spokesman declined to comment on the patent, but the company said the application is based on a previous filing by Ring from before the company was acquired by Amazon. The company said both Ring and Amazon are in the habit of filing forward-looking patent applications that explore the possibilities of new technology. Noting that the patent has not been issued by the patent office, Amazon said patents do not necessarily reflect product development plans. Although a patent application doesn’t necessarily tell you what a company is “going to do tomorrow,” Snow said, it does reveal what the firm is “contemplating.” “An algorithm shouldn’t be deciding whether someone is suspicious,” he said. “We’re calling on Amazon to be more thoughtful of the consequences of their technology being deployed in communities and to put people before profit."
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