Amazon Facial Recognition Falsely Matches Pro Athletes With Mugshots
Chris Sale, Duron Harmon, Gordon Hayward (Getty)
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"This technology is flawed," said Patriot's star Duron Harmon. "If it misidentified me, my teammates, and other professional athletes in an experiment, imagine the real-life impact of false matches."

27 professional Boston athletes are wanted for crimes ... at least according to Amazon's facial recognition technology.

14 New England Patriots players, six Boston Red Sox stars, five members of the Boston Bruins and two Boston Celtics were incorrectly matched with criminal mugshots by Amazon's facial "Rekognition" technology, an experiment has found.

The test was carried out by ACLU as part of its "Press Pause on Face Surveillance", which aims to highlight flaws in the technology, and discourage government reliance on it for matters of law and order.

The group used Rekognition to compare 188 headshots of local athletes with a database of 20,000 public arrest photos — and almost one in six athletes were falsely matched.

According to the software, the Patriots' Duron Harmon, David Andrews, Adam Butler, Yodny Cajuste, Keionta Davis, Phillip Dorsett, Stephen Gostkowski, Jonathan Jones, Lance Kendricks, David Parry, Danny Shelton, Dan Skipper, James White and Isaiah Wynn; the Bruins' Sean Kuraly, Karson Kuhlman, Brad Marchand, John Moore and Joakim Nordstrom; the Red Sox' Heath Hembree, Steve Pearce, Chris Sale, Hector Velazquez, Christian Vazquez and Brandon Workman; and the Celtics Tacko Fall and Gordon Hayward are all wanted for various crimes.

Patriots' safety Harmon was particularly unsettled at the findings.

"This technology is flawed," he said. "If it misidentified me, my teammates, and other professional athletes in an experiment, imagine the real-life impact of false matches."

"This technology should not be used by the government without protections and safeguards in place. Massachusetts should press pause on face surveillance technology."

Kade Crockford, director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, said the experiment showed that unregulated face surveillance technology in the hands of government agencies is a serious threat to individual rights, due process, and democratic freedoms.

"Face surveillance is dangerous when it doesn’t work, and when it does," he said. "There are currently no rules or standards in place in our state to ensure the technology isn't misused or abused. Massachusetts must pass a moratorium on government use of face surveillance technology until there are safeguards in place to keep people safe and free."

However, Amazon Web Services accused the ACLU of knowingly misusing and misrepresenting the application to make headlines, claiming that they were purposely using a weaker setting.

The default setting of 80% should only be used for finding celeb lookalikes on social media, it claimed; while utilizing it for serious matters like law enforcement, it should be increased to 99%, which would have dropped the misidentification rate to zero.

"When used with the recommended 99% confidence threshold and as one part of a human driven decision, facial recognition technology can be used for a long list of beneficial purposes, from assisting in the identification of criminals to helping find missing children to inhibiting human trafficking," the group said.

"We continue to advocate for federal legislation of facial recognition technology to ensure responsible use, and we’ve shared our specific suggestions for this both privately with policy makers and on our blog."

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