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Big League Economics

Amazon Feeds Facial Recognition To Law Enforcement, Congress Wants Answers

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Congress and civil rights groups demand answers from Jeff Bezos no later than June 20th regarding Amazon’s new facial recognition software, Rekognition, which allows consumers to search millions of images in a matter of seconds. With rates lower than the cost of a value meal at your local fast food joint, this service is fast, affordable, and available to anyone signed up with Amazon Web Services.

The multi billion dollar company’s facial recognition software, named Rekogniton, works by using Amazon’s cloud computing network AWS (Amazon Web Services). The software compares images provided by the customer to an already existing database of images also provided by the same customer. In addition to identifying humans, Rekognition can be used to search for inanimate objects like cars, text, and furniture.

Congress has raised concerns about Amazon Rekognition and some have written a letter to Jeff Bezos demanding to know how the software is being used by law enforcement agencies. In the letter dated May 25, 2018, Bezos is asked to provide information concerning bias and error rates and wants to make sure Rekognition is not being used to “facilitate systems that disproportionately impact people based on protected characteristics in potential violation of federal civil laws.” The letter asks Bezos to respond no later than June 20th, 2018.

Read the letter in its entirety:

Trending: Judge Who Jailed Manafort Also Cleared Hillary Clinton In Benghazi Case

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4484636-Ellison-Cleaver-Letter-to-Jeff-Bezos.html#document/p1

The ever growing market for facial recognition software and other image-scanning technology emboldens many privacy concerns. The possibility of having your photo taken without your knowledge or consent by cameras at traffic stops, individuals taking photos with their smartphone in a public venue, security cameras at different businesses and the like, leaves individuals vulnerable-especially when these images are loaded into a database that can scan and recognize you without your knowledge.

According to a blog from 2017 on Amazon’s website, they claim the software can “accurately capture demographics and analyze sentiments for all faces in group photos, crowded events, and public places such as airports and department stores.”

The ACLU obtained documents through the Freedom of Information Act that state Rekognition can identify up to 100 people in a crowd in databases of tens of millions of photos. In a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos sent May 22, 34 groups said people should be “free to walk down the street without being watched by the government. Facial recognition in American communities threatens this freedom.”

Full document: https://www.aclunc.org/docs/20180522_ARD.pdf#page=8

These civil rights groups are most concerned with Rekognition’s use amongst law enforcement agencies. Nicole Ozer, Technology and Civil Liberties Director for the ACLU in Northern California stated, “Once powerful surveillance systems like these are built and deployed, the harm can’t be undone. We’re talking about a technology that will supercharge surveillance in our communities.”

The Jeff Bezos owned behemoth of a business has all but given away these new facial recognition tools to law enforcement agencies including the Orlando Police Department in Florida and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, outside of Portland Oregon.

Orlando police chief, John Mina initially claimed the software was only being used at their headquarters, but later admitted at a news conference that three of the city’s downtown IRIS cameras were equipped with the software, and insisted that Rekognition being ran on these public cameras was still only able to track the seven officers that volunteered to test the system.

Matt Cagle, ACLU attorney said in a statement: “After misleading the people of Orlando, the Orlando Police Department has finally confirmed that it is indeed using Amazon’s face surveillance technology on public cameras. Now, it’s up to Amazon. Will it stop selling dangerous technology to the government?”

Amazon is not the only business selling facial recognition software, with both Google and Facebook having their own facial recognition services. Revealed by Forbes in April, one of the largest surveillance providers in the world, Israel-based Verint runs a large database of Facebook photos for facial recognition.

How much is this service? Between $6 and $12 a month. Yes, you read that right. $6 to $12 a month-which has always been a part of Amazon’s normal business model: start dirt cheap and the customers will come flooding in. Basically, you only pay for the number of images or minutes of video that you analyze–there are no upfront commitments or minimum fees applicable.

According to the document obtained by the ACLU, the Orlando Police Department only paid $30.99 for processing of 30,989 images. If you sign up to be part of the AWS Free Tier, you’re able to analyze 1,000 minutes of video for free each month for the first year.

Businesses and police agencies aren’t the only ones who have access to Amazon Rekognition, the average consumer can set up an account and use the software for just pennies on the dollar. Under the FAQs page on Amazon’s AWS website it gives a detailed description of how to sign up and get started using the software right away.

One last important note that should raise major concerns, as stated on Amazon’s AWS FAQ page: as long as you’re compliant with Amazon’s Rekognition Service Terms and have provided them with required verifiable parental consent under COPPA (Children’s Privacy Protection Act), you may use Amazon Rekognition in connection with websites, programs, or other applications that are directed or targeted, in whole or in part, to children age 13. Not only are adults vulnerable to the software, but images of children under 13 can also be scanned into the database.

 

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Big League Economics

Why Is George Soros Buying Up The New York Times?

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According to recent filings to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), billionaire globalist George Soros, through his investment firm, Soros Fund Management LLC, has purchased over $3 million-worth of stock holdings in the New York Times.

This purchase is the first that the liberal financier has made since 2007, when Soros bought $470,000 worth of shares in the newspaper. This recent investment includes purchasing 126,400 shares valued at $3,046,000. Soros’s purchase was for Class A stock holdings which are publicly traded-as opposed to its Class B stock, which are privately held.

The May 15th filing can be viewed here: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1029160/000114036118023894/xslForm13F_X01/form13fInfoTable.xml

Vice president of business and culture at the Media Research Center, Dan Gainor, found that in 2011, Soros pushed a minimum of $48 million into media ventures that included “journalism schools, investigative journalism and even industry organizations” over the course of just eight years. “Soros has long had influence or given direct funding to a wide range of journalism operations from NPR to ProPublica,” Gainor said. “This is still a big step to be buying a $3 million stake in the top liberal outlet in America.”

The controversial billionaire’s influence in mainstream media doesn’t stop there. The Hungarian-American self proclaimed “philanthropist” has ties to over 30 mainstream news outlets – including the Associated Press, Washington Post, NBC and ABC. Soros’s Open Society Institute is reported to have funded seven different investigative reporting projects including the Columbia University’s School of Journalism-receiving $600,000 from Soros, the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Center for Public Integrity and the New Orleans’ ‘The Lens’. Soros also funds the Committee to Protect Journalists, The National Federation of Community Broadcasters and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

His fascination with controlling the media is something that the billionaire has always shown interest in, but now as one of the world’s richest men, he’s able to fulfill his dreams all while using it to unapologetically, and openly attack the right.

In author and New York Times veteran, Michael T. Kaufman’s book entitled “Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire,” Soros has been intrigued by media since he was a young child with early interests into the field including “history or journalism or some form of writing.” He also had his own newspaper in his native Hungary, ‘The Lupa News’, which he served as “editor-in-chief and publisher”.

With all the billions of dollars that Soros has invested into trying to shape American politics and media, he is being forced to acknowledge his limits of influence.

Soros recently told The Washington Post that he was blindsided by President Donald Trump’s election. “Apparently, I was living in my own bubble.” He went on to explain why he thought Hillary Clinton lost the election, saying, “She was too much like a schoolmarm,” and that she was always “talking down to people…instead of listening to them.”

You can be sure of one thing, this is not the last we’ve heard from Soros who plans to reshape the public opinion through mainstream media publications and financially back a candidate in 2020 who shares his globalist agenda.

“The bigger the danger, the bigger the threat, the more I feel engaged to confront it,” added Soros. “So in that sense, yes, I redouble my efforts.”

Judicial Watch president, Tom Fitton said in a recent statement, Soros is a businessman and “shouldn’t be receiving taxpayer support to advance his radical left agenda to undermine freedom here at home and abroad.”

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Big League Economics

EXCLUSIVE: All Of Starbucks’ Official Race Experts Worked For George Soros

Because of course George Soros is involved…

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In response to claims of racism surrounding two black men being arrested in a Starbucks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, every Starbucks in the country will be closed on May 29th for “racial-bias education.” The company stated that the training will be mandatory, and will be implemented in the onboarding process for all new employees going forward.

The curriculum is being developed with guidance from “several national and local experts.” When Big League Politics reached out to get a list of those experts, we received the names of five different people. All of them have one major connection: George Soros.

Here are the five people Starbucks mentioned, who are also named in their press release:

Bryan Stevenson: Founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. Stevenson also serves on the board of George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.

Sherrilyn Ifill: President and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. Ifill also served on the board of George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.

Heather McGhee: President of Demos, a non-profit organization that advocates for a number of left-leaning issues. McGhee served in the Open Society Foundation’s “Fellowship Program” for two years.

Jonathan Greenblatt: CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. Greenblatt previously served as the Director of the Impact Economy Initiative at the George Soros-funded Aspen Institute.

Eric Holder: Former Attorney General appointed by Obama, who since leaving his position has continued to push far-left politics using George Soros-funded groups.

Nearly 175,000 employees of Starbucks will be required to participate in the training next month. While the curriculum has not yet been released, it will be no surprise if it is filled with leftist propaganda.

George Soros has pumped tens of millions of dollars through his “Open Society Foundation,” which in turn has funded countless leftist organizations, from Planned Parenthood, to Black Lives Matter, and even extremist antifa groups like Refuse Fascism.

Refuse Fascism believes that Donald Trump is a fascist, and organizers for the group believe he is more dangerous than Adolf Hitler was.

With people so closely connected to George Soros being involved in creating the curriculum for a training that every single Starbucks employee must go through, who knows what will be included in it?

 

 

 

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Big League Economics

Tariffs On China Alone Won’t Protect U.S. Steel

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In early March, President Trump announced forthcoming import tariffs on both steel and aluminum, leaving key trade allies scrambling for possible exemptions and prompting wild speculation of artificial price inflation.

European Union trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom abruptly flew to Washington to push back against the proposed measure. Ultimately, the commission proved successful, as the EU, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and South Korea received exemptions, protecting two-thirds of world steel production from the proposed tariffs.

While smoothing over relations with allies, these exemptions quickly undermined the initial leverage the proposed tariffs granted, representing a serious threat to the sustainability of the U.S. steel industry.

Immediately following the announcement of tariff exemptions on March 22, shares of U.S. Steel Corp dropped 11 percent, while the S&P steel index fell 7.4 percent, the largest single-day drop since 2011. These economic downturns could easily jeopardize the creation and sustainment of domestic steel jobs, including the 500 new jobs announced by U.S. Steel in March.

Fortunately, the tariff exemptions are temporary, bearing a May 1 expiration date. When these measures have lapsed, the president should continue to use tariffs to hold bad actors accountable.

These economic measures have already given the Trump administration an effective bargaining chip to combat steel market overcapacity, and to give American companies access to foreign markets they were previously barred from.

South Korea agreed to reduce its steel exports to the U.S. by 30 percent in March, all to avoid Trump’s proposed 25 percent tariff.  Additionally, the agreement allows U.S. car companies to sell 50,000 cars per year in South Korea, forgoing additional testing. This exercise in South Korea proves that tariffs, or the mere threat of tariffs, work.

“In lieu of tariffs on steel, we have a quota which is equal to only 70 percent of their shipments from the last few years, and this will be as effective as the tariffs, and preserve the integrity of the steel industry. So let’s not talk about exemptions letting anybody out,” Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro told NPR, and his judgement rings true.

Trump recently placed $60 billion in tariffs on China, an actor that depresses U.S. steel production and prices by illegally subsidizing domestic production of steel to sell in the global marketplace, also known as “dumping.”

While this is an excellent move, China isn’t the extent of the issue, as 85 percent of U.S. steel trade cases have involved countries other than China in the last four years.

In 2015, six major steelmakers filed anti-dumping and countervailing duties charges against China, India, Italy, South Korea, and Taiwan, alleging a violation of international trade law by importing government-subsidized steel.

“These unfairly traded imports have seriously impacted pricing in the U.S. market, which has resulted in a significant negative effect on our production, sales and earnings,” AK Steel President James Wainscott wrote in a statement.

Clearly, in order to protect the U.S. steel industry, the president should not consider further exemptions, as even trade “allies” are actively engaging in predatory business practices. By extending tariffs to all countries that break the rules, Trump could shore up our economy and national security, keeping a vital domestic industry alive.

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