Enter Orwell, Laughing

The Verge:

“Documents obtained by the ACLU of Northern California have shed new light on Rekognition, Amazon’s little-known facial recognition project. Rekognition is currently used by police in Orlando and Oregon’s Washington County, often using nondisclosure agreements to avoid public disclosure. The result is a powerful real-time facial recognition system that can tap into police body cameras and municipal surveillance systems.

“According to further reporting by The Washington Post, the Washington County Sheriff pays between $6 and $12 a month for access to Rekognition, which allows the department to scan mug shot photos against real-time footage.

“The most significant concerns are raised by the Orlando project, which is capable of running real-time facial recognition on a network of cameras throughout the city. The project was described by Rekognition project director Ranju Das at a recent AWS conference in Seoul.

“This is an immediate response use case,” Das told the crowd. “There are cameras all over the city [of Orlando]. Authorized cameras are streaming the data to Kinesis video stream…. We analyze that data in real time and search against the collection of faces that they have. Maybe they want to know if the mayor of the city is in a place, or there are persons of interest they want to track.”

The thing that always frightened me the most in 1984 was the surveillance, that everywhere Winston went, he never knew whether or not Big Brother was watching him. He had to assume that he was always being watched.

There is a tradeoff between security and privacy — I get that — but one of the many problems with this technology is that you do not get to opt in or out of it. You are wrapped up and delivered regardless of your participation preference.

One might ask why Amazon has this software as part of their AWS group at all. It seems very specific to law enforcement and perhaps espionage, and not at all related to selling crap over the internet.

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10 Responses to Enter Orwell, Laughing

  1. kathywompus says:

    “Person of Interest” was one of my favorite TV shows. It went down a very dark path.
    Life imitating Art.
    The implications of all this are terrifying.


  2. The crap Amazon is selling, in this case, is AWS.

    (our university has moved vast swathes of their infrastructure to AWS cloud services, and Campus IT has an office dedicated to helping other units move things there. For a cash-strapped state university, this is a very attractive proposition: we pay Amazon about as much as we were paying to run our own stuff, but now we don’t have to worry about keeping boxes running, paying for electricity, staff, building space, etc.)

    In many ways AWS has become kind of the tail wagging to dog at Amazon, to the point that Amazon the crap-selling website is more of an advertisement for AWS than anything else. “This is what WE do with AWS” which isn’t far from the truth; AWS was developed in house at Amazon because the old systems they had were not working. Basically they made their own dog food, then figured out other folks would buy it, too.

    AWS has the potential to be much MUCH bigger than Jeff’s retail empire, and he damned well knows it.


    • E.A. Blair says:

      WTF does the American Welding Society have to do with Amazon?


    • tengrain says:

      BDR –

      I know.

      I have a relative who was one of the AWS engineers. AWS pays the bills while Amazon destroys retail. It’s amazing how evil the company I can see from my ‘hood actually is.



      Liked by 1 person

  3. Also, just wait until Amazon pairs Rekognition with this: https://krebsonsecurity.com/2018/05/mobile-giants-please-dont-share-the-where/

    That is LITERALLY the plot of Person of Interest


  4. C Montgomery Burns says:

    Well more computers could mean less cops and that’s not always a bad thing.
    Until the computers take over.


  5. Condi says:

    Time to get a custom silicone mask or two… Or, you know, more realistically… And cheaper!


  6. Ten Bears says:

    One might ask why Our Tea Pot Dictator has such a hard-on for the guy who built it.


  7. Karla says:

    This news is showing up here in Orlando, but I’m surprised there is not more outcry.
    Publix (our omnipresent grocery chain) is getting most of the rage these days. Between censoring a cake that was supposed to say “Congrats Jacob! Summa Cum Laude Class of 2018” (the cake they presented said “Congrats Jacob! Summa — Laude Class of 2018”) and their overwhelming financial support of gubernatorial candidate and self-proclaimed “proud-NRA sellout” Adam Putnam, we apparently can’t also rage at Amazon and the OPD.


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