The City of Orlando will not continue to participate in Amazon’s facial recognition software trial, as of last Thursday.

Orlando’s new Chief of Police, Orlando Rolon, stated that his department was “… not able to dedicate the resources to the pilot to enable us to make any noticeable progress toward completing the needed configuration and testing.”

A memo released that day states that the City has no immediate plans to participate in other pilots with facial recognition tech but that they are open to opportunities “as they emerge.”

The Orlando Police Department has been testing Amazon’s Rekognition software since December 2017 but it wasn’t made public until May 2019. More on that story HERE. The original testing phase lasted six months, ending in June 2018, before being renewed for another window starting in October 2018.

Eight cameras total were installed in public areas around downtown Orlando that were equipped with the special software. The OPD stressed that it was not being used to track the public but was being limited to follow seven OPD employees who had volunteered for the testing.

While the data and video software was being monitored by City police staff, questions have been raised as to whether Amazon was also monitoring through their own back door program or who owns the rights to the video that was captured during the pilot. The ACLU made several public statements that the technology should have been approved through a public process involving elected officials, rather than a closed deal between police officials and private interests.

Despite the controversy around the program’s public visibility, reports have been made that the technology never really operated at 100 percent and had persistent bugs, bandwidth, and lagging issues.

Orlando has been the only American city to openly test the Amazon Rekognition software.

Brendan O'Connor

Editor in Chief of

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