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Law enforcement use of Amazon’s Ring camera raises concerns

US Democrat Senator Edward Markey on Thursday raised concerns that Amazon.com’s Ring Doorbell camera’s use of law enforcement might disproportionately promote racial profiling.

In a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Mr Markey said that the sharing of information from Ring’s on-home camera systems with police departments “can easily build a surveillance network that puts a dangerous burden on people of colour”.

Markey, the ranking member on the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Security, said he was “alarmed to learn that Ring is pursuing facial recognition technology” and that Amazon was marketing its facial recognition technology Rekognition to police departments.

Ring refused to comment.

Facial recognition technology has shown that people of colour are unreasonably misidentified. In a study conducted in 2018 by the United States Civil Liberties Union, Rekognition wrongly compared 28 Congressional members including Markey, to 25,000 photos publicly available.

Markey stated civil liberties concerns about Ring Cameras “countless bystanders who may be unaware that they are being filmed”

The ring services include home camera surveillance systems and a social network called neighbours, which allows users to share and chat about images captured on their devices.

Markey urged Bezos to identify all law enforcement agencies with ring footage exposure and to include facial recognition technology in the company’s planning.

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