Amazon indefinitely extends a moratorium on the police use of its facial recognition software.


By Karen Weise

Amazon said Tuesday that it would indefinitely prohibit police departments from using its facial recognition tool, extending a moratorium the company announced last year during nationwide protests over racism and biased policing.

The tool has faced scrutiny from lawmakers and some employees inside Amazon who said they were worried that it led to unfair treatment of African-Americans. Amazon has repeatedly defended the accuracy of its algorithms.

When Amazon announced the pause in June, it did not cite a specific reason for the change. The company said it hoped a year was enough time for Congress to create legislation regulating the ethical use of facial recognition technology. Congress has not banned the technology, or issued any significant regulations on it, but some cities have.

The primary suppliers of facial recognition tools to police departments have not been tech giants like Amazon, but smaller outfits that are not household names.

Still, privacy advocates cheered Amazon’s latest move.

“This is a huge win for privacy and is the direct result of years of work by activists and advocates who have shed light on the dangerous use of this flawed technology,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement posted on Twitter.

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