A union of over 85 activist teams sent letters to Amazon, Microsoft, and Google forcing them to avoid retailing their facial surveillance tech to the government.

The union includes teams of National Lawyers Guild chapters, American Civil Liberties Union, and Freedom of the Press Foundation. On 15 Jan, it sent letters to notify the firms that the choice to provide government with the tech “threatens the safety of community members and will also undermine public trust.” The union says that is due to the fact that facial recognition software provides power to the government to aim at religious minorities, immigrants, and people of color, thus worsening a historical bias.

“Companies can’t continue to pretend that the ‘break-then-fix’ approach works,” ACLU of California’s technology and civil liberties director, Nicole Ozer, claimed. “ … We are at a crossroads with face surveillance, and the choices made by these companies now will determine whether the next generation will have to fear being tracked by the government for attending a protest, going to their place of worship, or simply living their lives.”

The letter forces tech firms, whose emotion about retailing new tech vary from wary to eager.

At least, Google seems to be pacing casually. In December, the firm obligated not to retail its face recognition software till its likely threats are addressed.

This declaration came few months after many Google workers left to disapprove firm’s $10 billion bid for an agreement on cloud data center services with the Pentagon. Eventually, Google left the project, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud, mentioning that it is not certain that the project fulfills its codes for using artificial intelligence. Google prohibits the us of its AI tech in services and weapons which go against international norms for human rights and surveillance.

Likewise, Microsoft workers also stressed managers to attract its JEDI project bid. However, at that time, Microsoft claimed that it had no aim of leaving it.  

President of Microsoft, Brad Smith, accepted in a blog post published in December the threats related with face recognition surveillance tech and its duty to tackle them internally. He also stressed upon the need for government rules for the usage of technology.

On the other side, Amazon keeps on retailing its face recognition software to government organizations. The previous year, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said that the society would ultimately handle the negative usage of tech.

In the beginning of this month, the FBI started testing Amazon’s Rekognition to analyze the surveillance videos gathered during a case. It was also reported that Amazon discussed Rekognition with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  

The ACLU is especially worried about Amazon and its tech, it conducted a test last year which showed that Rekognition wrongly identified 28 Congress members as criminals, with members of color strangely being recognized wrongly.