Amazon has undertaken a new initiative – drafting facial recognition technology laws that it believes can be accepted by the US Congress.
This is a first – a tech company getting involved in legislation that will regulate some of the tech that it is actually using. Rather than being the judge, jury and executioner, it wants to turn lawmaker.
The fact was revealed by the company’s CEO Jeff Bezos in a media appearance post the Alexa event on Thursday. “Our public policy team is actually working on facial recognition regulations; it makes a lot of sense regulate that,” he said.
When reached out for comment on the matter by the Recode, the company declined to comment further.
In February this year, the company proposed guidelines on the matter. But actually writing laws sets a new precedent for a tech company, especially since it has itself been criticised for its own “Rekognition” system for gender and race bias.
Amazon is not the only company that has asked for better regulation of facial recognition technology. Many cities in the US have banned the technology, while some companies have also resolved not to use it until it becomes more accurate.
“It’s a perfect example of something that has really positive uses, so you don’t want to put the brakes on it,” Bezos reportedly said Wednesday. “But, at the same time, there’s also potential for abuses of that kind of technology, so you do want regulations. It’s a classic dual-use kind of technology,” Bezos further added.
However, involving tech companies in regulating tech is a double-edged sword. Without their involvement, the proper issues may not be highlighted and ways to resolve them may not be efficiently worked upon. However, involving them in a law-making position means giving at least the appearance of vested interests and conflict of interest.
It remains to be seen how the US Congress deals with the issue.