The Orlando Police Department Is Ending Its Test of Amazon Facial Recognition Tech—For Now

June 26, 2018, 10:45 AM UTC

Orlando will not be renewing its contract with Amazon.

The city’s police department had been one of two in an Amazon pilot program to incorporate its facial recognition software, Rekognition, into law enforcement. But the program has come under fire from civil liberties groups and even some Amazon investors over concerns that the technology could be used for mass surveillance.

In a letter to Orlando’s mayor and city council on Monday, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida urged the police department to end its use of the technology.

In a joint statement, the city and the Police Department said the contract “remains expired” but left open the possibility of reinstating it or trying other types of software: “The City of Orlando is always looking for new solutions to further our ability to keep our residents and visitors safe. Partnering with innovative companies to test new technology—while also ensuring we uphold privacy laws and in no way violate the rights of others—is critical to us as we work to further keep our community safe.”

Amazon Rekognition is also being tested in Washington County, Oregon. The technology remains in use. In an email to The New York Times the Sheriff’s Office said, “The Sheriff’s Office has not, and will not, utilize this technology for mass or real-time surveillance. That use is prohibited by both Oregon state law and our own policy.”

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