Amazon Rekognition facial recognition tool incorrectly matches Over 100 American and British politicians with criminals
This is a match that many netizens would agree with. Amazon’s Rekognition facial recognition tool actually matched nearly 100 politicians from the United States and the United Kingdom with the mugshots of criminals lodged in prisons.
According to a test conducted by comparitech.com, the Amazon facial recognition tool Rekognition incorrectly matched over 100 UK and US politicians with police mugshots. The Comparitech researchers used mugshots of 2500 jailbirds logged in various prisons and registered with a website called Jailbase and compared them with 1,429 pictures of UK politicians and 530 US representatives and senators.
The study was being done to test the Rekognition tool for false positives as it is being increasingly used by law enforcement agencies around the world. But the tests showed some fascinating results.
Rekognition tool results
Out of the images of 1429 UK politicians fed into the Rekognition tool by the researchers, it matched 73 Lords and MPs to the mugshots of the criminals with a five percent false positive rate. And the American politicians were no good either. Of the 530 US politicians, 32 of them were incorrectly matched with the criminal mugshots.
The researchers said that they had tested the politicians’ images at Rekognition’s 80 percent accuracy threshold, which is the default setting on the tool.
When two images are compared by Amazon’s Rekognition, it doesn’t simply return a yes or no answer. Instead, results are given as percentages. The higher the percentage, the more confident Rekognition is that the two images are of the same person.
Amazon’s facial recognition software, Rekognition has been under fire from privacy activists and democracy crusaders for its privacy policies. The above tests were done to confirm ACLU’s findings that the Rekognition tool has too many false-positive results which could harm individual privacy. You can read the detailed study here.