Amazon’s newest patent application paints a pretty disturbing picture for the future of doorbells. According to the paperwork, the company’s facial recognition software wouldn’t just be licensed to law enforcement agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to identify potential criminals, but used to scan the eyeballs of anyone who walks by your front door.
The nightmarish concept is made possible through Ring, a camera doorbell company that was purchased by the e-commerce giant this year. The application, which outlines a product capable of identifying passersby and sending an image of their likeness to law enforcement, is drawing ire from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The organization published a lengthy blogpost on Wednesday detailing how the product works and why you should be alarmed. It joins a growing outcry against the company’s technology that includes its own employees and shareholders and the entire Black Congressional Congress.
Basically, Ring would be equipped with facial scanning software—similar to Amazon’s proprietary Rekognition program—which matches “suspicious” people with mugshots in police databases.
As the ACLU’s Jacob Snow writes, it sets a precedent for a “dangerous future,” where due process could easily be replaced by a technology that’s repeatedly been proven dubiouswhen subjected to scientific scrutiny. That should be familiar to Amazon, which had to retire its resume-reading AI earlier this year due to its tendency to favor men over women.
The application describes a system that the police can use to match the faces of people walking by a doorbell camera with a photo database of persons they deem “suspicious.” Likewise, homeowners can also add photos of “suspicious” people into the system and then the doorbell’s facial recognition program will scan anyone passing their home. In either case, if a match occurs, the person’s face can be automatically sent to law enforcement, and the police could arrive in minutes.
If anything, the ACLU’s screed is just part of the growing opprobrium towards Amazon’s plans to make facial-recognition technology an everyday occurrence. On Wednesday, company executives were showered with boos by protesters at a New York City Council meeting that addressed its growing relationship with law enforcement as well as its proposed second headquarters to be located in Long Island City, Queens.
Though Amazon has remained steadfast in its commitment to provide the powerful tech to law enforcement agencies that could potentially abuse it, it’s clear the company faces an uphill battle in the court of public opinion.
Originally posted on Popular Mechanics