- Richard Vogel/Reuters
- Amazon met with ICE officials in June to discuss the potential use of its real-time facial recognition surveillance technology known as “Rekognition,” according to a report by The Daily Beast.
- The meeting was held at a McKinsey & Company office in Redwood City, California, as ICE and the consulting firm had a contract that ended this summer.
- The report suggests concerns that the technology could be used by ICE to target immigrants near “sensitive locations” like medical facilities and houses of worship.
- ICE does not have any public contracts with Amazon today for Rekognition.
Amazon met with officials from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) this summer to discuss the potential use of its real-time facial recognition surveillance technology known as “Rekognition,” according to a report by The Daily Beast and documents obtained by the Project on Government Oversight.
The Daily Beast report raises concerns that the technology could be used by ICE to target immigrants near “sensitive locations” like medical facilities and houses of worship, which is discouraged by official policy but has been carried out under the current administration.
The report also cites multiple studies, including one from the ACLU, that shows Amazon’s Rekognition – which attempts in real-time to identify people by scanning faces in a video feed – often misidentifies individuals and does so at a disproportionate rate for people of color.
The meeting between ICE and Amazon Web Service took place at the McKinsey & Company offices in Redwood City, California this June, according to the report. ICE and McKinsey had a management contract that ended this summer, and it had been previously unreported that the consulting firm had suggested ICE adopt the cutting edge facial recognition technologies, The Daily Beast said.
One former ICE official quoted in the report voiced concerned that immigration officers could abuse the technology, relying on Rekogition to make arrests rather than what Amazon claims its intended purpose of being “the first step in identifying an individual.”
Amazon did not immediately return Business Insider’s request for comment. ICE told The Daily Beast it does not have any public contracts with Amazon today for the facial recognition technology.
In an anonymous Medium post last week, one Amazon employee warned that the company’s facial recognition tech should not be used to police, especially given that it is more likely to misidentify people with darker skin.
Amazon has publicly refuted the ACLU’s research and just last week in an interview with Wired, CEO Jeff Bezos defended his company working with government agencies, like the Department of Defence. Bezos did, however, try to distance himself from the ICE discussion by saying, “I’d let them in if it was me, I like ’em, I want all of them in.”