Amazon pauses police use of facial recognition

Amazon on Wednesday said it was putting a one-year moratorium on police use of its facial recognition software, a major reversal of its long-time defense of law enforcement's use of the technology.

The announcement comes after IBM said earlier this week that it would stop selling facial recognition products.

Activists have voiced concern that facial recognition could lead to unjust arrests during demonstrations against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death last month.

Critics have also questioned the accuracy of the technology, pointing to Amazon's so-called "Rekognition" service that had struggled to identify the gender of individuals with darker skin in a past study.

Amazon, which sells cloud computing technology via its Amazon Web Services division, said in a statement that it has pushed for regulations to ensure the technology was used ethically, and that it hoped the moratorium might give Congress enough time to “implement appropriate rules.”