Orlando police decide to keep testing controversial Amazon facial recognition program

SAN FRANCISCO — The Orlando Police Department in Florida is planning to continue its test of a facial recognition program from Amazon, despite outcry from civil rights and privacy groups that law enforcement and government agencies could abuse the technology.

OPD announced last month that the trial proof of concept run of the software had expired, but OPD public information officer, Sgt. Eduardo Bernal, said in a release Monday that the department will continue its testing of the program.

Two years ago, Amazon built the facial and product recognition tool, called Rekognition, as a way for customers to quickly search a database of images and look for matches. Rekognition uses Amazon’s cloud computing network AWS to compare images to a database of images the customer has provided.

At least two police departments around the country have been testing the software, and privacy advocates have protested, fearing law enforcement might abuse the technology.

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