Perhaps, it was a mislabeling according to how Amazon’s new facial recognition software mismatched 28 members of the US Congress with mugshots, but I’d be willing to bet that the label of criminal on several, if not all, probably was very truthful. Still, it’s very ironic that such a thing would occur, don’t you think? Hold your laughter till the end.
According to a recent test conducted by the Communist organization known as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), 28 members of Congress were matched to mugshots.
Jacob Snow, who is a technology and civil liberties attorney with the ACLU, writes:
The members of Congress who were falsely matched with the mugshot database we used in the test include Republicans and Democrats, men and women, and legislators of all ages, from all across the country.
Our test used AmazonRekognition to compare images of members of Congress with a database of mugshots. The results included 28 incorrect matches.
The false matches were disproportionately of people of color, including six members of the Congressional Black Caucus, among them civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). These results demonstrate why Congress should join the ACLU in calling for a moratorium on law enforcement use of face surveillance.
To conduct our test, we used the exact same facial recognition system that Amazon offers to the public, which anyone could use to scan for matches between images of faces. And running the entire test cost us $12.33 — less than a large pizza.
The Congressional Black Caucus decided to pen a letter to Amazon’s CIA-tied CEO Jeff Bezos over concern that the facial recognition not only erred, but they claim it showed a racial bias. No surprise here.
The letter, written by the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Cedric L. Richmond, says the CBC is “troubled by the profound negative unintended consequences this form of artificial intelligence could have for African Americans, undocumented immigrants, and protestors.”
The ACLU claims that 40 percent of Rekognition’s false matches were “people of color,” even though they make up only 20 percent of Congress.
I suppose what they should consider is that they are also claiming it is mislabeling those members of Congress. So, if it’s doing that, what difference does it make that they are black, white or yellow? The point is the facial recognition software apparently isn’t worth the code its written in just yet.
And there’s lots of work Amazon needs to do to improve before this software should have been deployed to local law enforcement. As the ACLU points out:
Matching people against arrest photos is not a hypothetical exercise. Amazon is aggressively marketing its face surveillance technology to police, boasting that its service can identify up to 100 faces in a single image, track people in real time through surveillance cameras, and scan footage from body cameras. A sheriff’s department in Oregon has already started using Amazon Rekognition to compare people’s faces against a mugshot database, without any public debate.
Face surveillance also threatens to chill First Amendment-protected activity like engaging in protest or practicing religion, and it can be used to subject immigrants to further abuse from the government.
These dangers are why Amazon employees, shareholders, a coalition of nearly 70 civil rights groups, over 400 members of the academic community, and more than 150,000 members of the public have already spoken up to demand that Amazon stop providing face surveillance to the government.
The Daily Sheeple adds:
Since this is Congress we’re talking about, we should be clear: The lawmakers aren’t criminals (hold the ‘lols’). The pictures that Amazon’s “Rekognition” software matched to them were of different people
“Mass shootings create a pervasive sense of insecurity and anxiety that politicians and policymakers will inevitably seek to address,” senior policy analyst Jay Stanley insists on the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project blog. As a result, he argues, “those who support expansive gun rights as a protection against excessive government power should strongly consider how much government intrusion and expanded power they’re willing to trade for those rights.”
Reason put it quite nicely writing, “This is the old ‘why do you make him hit you?’ argument applied to civil liberties. It excuses the actions of the abuser—the state in this case—as reactions to the missteps of the abused. But it’s actually a step further removed because most gun owners fly entirely below the state’s radar. They’re among the general population getting slapped by policies that politicians justify as responses to the crimes of a tiny minority.”
At least the ACLU is warning about the dangers of this obviously flawed Amazon software. They could also attempt to define civil liberties because they seem to only be on the side of the liberties they like.
A representative for Amazon told The New York Times that the ACLU used the tools differently than how they expect law enforcement will. The ACLU used the default mode of 80 percent confidence in the match; Amazon recommends that police use a 95 percent threshold. “It is worth noting that in real-world scenarios, Amazon Rekognition is almost exclusively used to help narrow the field and allow humans to expeditiously review and consider options using their judgment,” Amazon’s rep said in a statement.
I can’t imagine how anybody would find that reassuring. Not only do law enforcement officers have a lengthy history of stubbornly arresting and imprisoning people over cases of mistaken identity, Zuri Davis noted recently how one police chief was just flat-out arresting random innocent men in order to clear burglaries. Imagine being able to blame it on technology.-Reason
None of this is reassuring and it pretty much makes the ACLU look like major hypocrites. They want people to have the liberty of privacy and better facial recognition tools, but they reject the notion of self-defense because some people have done some bad things.
Indeed, it’s amazing how these people pick and choose what rights they want to uphold while attacking others that don’t fit their agenda.
Now, you are free to laugh at this incredible irony.
Here’s a list of the representatives who were mismatched with arrest photos:
- John Isakson (R-Georgia)
- Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts)
- Pat Roberts (R-Kansas)
- Sanford Bishop (D-Georgia)
- George Butterfield (D-North Carolina)
- Lacy Clay (D-Missouri)
- Mark DeSaulnier (D-California)
- Adriano Espaillat (D-New York)
- Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona)
- Thomas Garrett (R-Virginia)
- Greg Gianforte (R-Montana)
- Jimmy Gomez (D-California)
- Raúl Grijalva (D-Arizona)
- Luis Gutiérrez (D-Illinois)
- Steve Knight (R-California)
- Leonard Lance (R-New Jersey)
- John Lewis (D-Georgia)
- Frank LoBiondo (R-New Jersey)
- David Loebsack (D-Iowa)
- David McKinley (R-West Virginia)
- John Moolenaar (R-Michigan)
- Tom Reed (R-New York)
- Bobby Rush (D-Illinois)
- Norma Torres (D-California)
- Marc Veasey (D-Texas)
- Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio)
- Steve Womack (R-Arkansas)
- Lee Zeldin (R-New York)
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