Congressman Keith Ellison

Representing the 5th District of Minnesota


Reps. Ellison and Cleaver Ask Jeff Bezos About Police Use of Amazon’s Facial Recognition Software

May 25, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON - Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) today sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos inquiring about Amazon’s practice of selling and offering the company’s Rekignition facial recognition technology to police departments. 


“A series of studies have shown that face recognition technology is consistently less accurate in identifying the faces of African Americans and women as compared to Caucasians and men," said Reps. Ellison and Cleaver. “The disproportionally high arrest rates for members of the black community make the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement problematic, because it could serve to reinforce this trend.”  

The questions the two Representatives asked Amazon CEO Bezos include: 

·    What steps is Amazon taking to ensure that Rekognition is not facilitating systems that disproportionately impact people based on protected characteristics in potential violation of federal civil rights laws?

·    Amazon has advertised Rekognition for use with officer body cameras, a use that could transform these devices from tools designed for officer accountability into surveillance devices aimed at the public. Please provide any email correspondence and documentation from AWS relating to the use of Rekognition with wearable body camera technology.

·    Which private sector Rekognition customers develop software products for law enforcement agencies’ use based on the Rekognition platform? Please provide a list of any Rekognition customers that design or market Rekognition-based products for use by law enforcement users. 

Read the full letter here [PDF]