The FBI is Trying Amazon’s Facial-Recognition Software
Government use of silicon valley tech is projected to skyrocket in 2019, with the FBI’s use of Amazon’s facial-recognition software showcasing the broader trend. The use began as a pilot program in 2018 to support a number of counter-terrorism investigations that generated more video footage to be sifted than could be reasonably processed by the bureau’s personnel. Following the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, the FBI collected a petabyte of data. “We had agents and analysts, eight per shift, working 24/7 for three weeks going through the video footage of everywhere Stephen Paddock was in the month leading up to him coming and doing the shooting,” noted the FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Counterterrorism. Amazon’s cloud platform and facial recognition technology was then brought in to help process this kind of data that otherwise overwhelms traditional processing abilities. While these cases offer a clear and transparent use of the technology, it is less clear how the technology is being used or might be used in the future by the bureau.