The U.S. securities regulators has discarded Amazon.com Inc’s attempt to prevent shareholders from voting on company’s controversial sale of a facial recognition service to the U.S. government.
Amazon made a deal with government to provide its facial recognition technology Rekognition, but that become controversial for concerns showed by the investors over discriminatory use of the technology, for which two proposals of voting on the matter were suggested by the shareholders.
The non-binding proposal was not acceptable to the Amazon for which it made an unusual move of making appeal the regulators to stop its investors to exercise the voting on those proposals at the company’s upcoming annual meeting, but on Wednesday, its appeal was shot down by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The matter not only highlights the growing scrutiny of the facial recognition technology but also indicates the hindrances for the industry to expand their related business around that technology.
One of the proposals requires Amazon to stop offering facial recognition service to governments without obtaining a go ahead from the company’s board which will determine whether that specific sale violates civil liberties, while other proposal emphasize on calling an audit to check for any risk or harm to rights and privacy of the people arising out from the offered service.
Amazon did not comment of the SEC’s decision.
Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer and cloud computing company, and is one among many other companies which sell and disclosed those deals of selling facial recognition technology to law enforcement agencies as well as to private customers.
But, Amazon has to face lot of criticism by the civil liberties groups who raised concerns about company’s technology as some researchers found the Amazon’s Rekognition in a struggling position to correctly identify the gender of dark-skin people, which prompted the risk of discrimination against people of color and fears of their unjust arrests.