Amazon has pitched its facial recognition system, called “Rekognition,” to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to a report.
The Daily Beast obtained documents from July showing Amazon’s pitch to ICE, which included a workshop and access to Amazon’s Rekognition system.
In a statement, ICE declared, “We can’t provide data on how often we’ve met with a particular vendor to discuss emerging technology they’re developing, but industry outreach and building relationships with potential contractors is fairly standard within government acquisition.”
Amazon also responded to the report, claiming, “We participated with a number of other technology companies in technology ‘boot camps’ sponsored by McKinsey Company, where a number of technologies were discussed, including Rekognition. As we usually do, we followed up with customers who were interested in learning more about how to use our services.”
After Amazon employees accused CEO Jeff Bezos of aiding “immoral U.S. policy” with the company’s U.S. government contracts, and demanded Amazon to stop providing Rekognition to police agencies, Bezos dismissed the demands, declaring, “If big tech companies are going to turn their back on the DoD, this country is going to be in trouble.”
“We are going to continue to support the DoD, and I think we should. One of the jobs of senior leadership is to make the right decision, even when it’s unpopular,” he continued. “I know everyone is conflicted about the current politics in this country — this country is a gem… It is amazing, it’s still the best place in the world, it’s the place people want to come, there aren’t other countries where everybody’s trying to get in. I’d let them in if it were up to me. I like them. I want all of them in. This is a great country and it does need to be defended.”