Amazon.com’s facial recognition tools incorrectly identified 28 members of Congress as people arrested for a crime during a test commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, the watchdog said Thursday.
The ACLU said its findings show that Amazon’s Rekognition technology is hampered by inaccuracies that disproportionately put people of color at risk and should prompt regulators to halt “law enforcement use of face surveillance.”
For its test, the ACLU of Northern California created a database of 25,000 publicly available arrest photos, though the civil liberties watchdog did not give details about where it obtained the images or the kinds of individuals in the photos. It then used Amazon’s Rekognition software to compare that database against photos of every member of the U.S. House and Senate.
Among the misidentified lawmakers were Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who has called for federal privacy legislation, and six members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including civil rights icon Lewis.