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Orlando Police End Test of Amazon’s Real-Time Facial ‘Rekognition’ System

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: The city of Orlando, Fla., says it has ended a pilot program in which its police force used Amazon’s real-time facial recognition — a system called “Rekognition” that had triggered complaints from rights and privacy groups when its use was revealed earlier this year. Orlando’s deal to open part of its camera systems to Amazon was reported by NPR’s Martin Kaste in May, after the ACLU noticed that an Amazon Rekognition executive mentioned the city as a customer.

On Monday, the ACLU of Florida wrote a letter to Mayor Buddy Dyer and the Orlando City Council, demanding that the city “immediately” shut down “any face surveillance deployment or use by city agencies and departments.” On the same day, Orlando city and police officials issued a joint statement saying that the test of how its officers might use the Rekognition technology ended last week. The city added, “Staff continues to discuss and evaluate whether to recommend continuation of the pilot at a further date,” adding that “the contract with Amazon remains expired.” Orlando police say the test was limited to only a fraction of the city’s cameras, and that the system was tested by tracking its own officers. The Rekognition deal with Orlando caused a stir after Ranju Das, the head of the Rekognition unit, said in early May: “City of Orlando is a launch partner of ours. It’s a smart city; they have cameras all over the city. The authorized cameras are then streaming the data […] we are a subscriber to the stream, we analyze the video in real time, search against the collection of faces that they have.”


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