Amazon may be experimenting that has a seller verification program in which people record video of their faces to create accounts in addition to sell goods on its site, a sign of the company’s deepening investment within the powerful brand-new technology of facial recognition.
An Amazon seller based in Vietnam told BuzzFeed News in which he was prompted to take a 5-second video of his face using his computer’s webcam in January as he signed up for a seller profile. Amazon seller consultants told BuzzFeed News they believe the company may be testing video to verify seller identities to prevent the creation of multiple seller profiles, a major issue for Amazon in addition to its ongoing battle with fake sellers in addition to counterfeit goods.
“We will record a 5-second video of your face,” an Amazon seller verification prompt viewed by This specific person in addition to shared with BuzzFeed News reads. “The video will be encrypted in addition to stored for identification purpose. To proceed, enable access to your webcam.”
The seller, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation coming from Amazon, told BuzzFeed News he was not given an option to decline to submit a video of his face during the signup process. He also said he cannot find the video in his seller profile — or a way to remove the idea.
Reached for comment by BuzzFeed News, Amazon disputed neither the authenticity of the facial verification process the idea required of the seller, nor the screenshot.
The company, however, refused to explain its collection of sellers’ faces.
“Amazon is actually always innovating to improve the seller experience,” a company spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in response to a detailed list of questions.
Amazon declined to explain why or when the idea began asking some sellers for video proof of identity, in what regions the idea requests in which proof, in addition to what the idea does with the videos the idea records. The Seattle-based tech giant also would certainly not say if the videos are processed by its Rekognition facial recognition technology, if a seller can remove video proof of identity coming from Amazon’s servers, in addition to whether the idea has updated its seller agreements in addition to privacy policies to address the collection in addition to storage of biometric data.
In 2018, Amazon came under heavy scrutiny for its aggressive efforts to peddle facial “Rekognition” as a law enforcement solution without a rigorous training program in addition to at a time when there is actually no case law or constitutional precedent to guide its use. The accuracy of Amazon’s technology has also been called into question, most notably by the American Civil Liberties Union which found in which Rekognition incorrectly matched 28 members of Congress to arrest mugshots. Those false matches were disproportionately people of coloration. in addition to overshadowing these immediate concerns is actually a growing fear of the vast global erosion of privacy in which could follow a wider deployment of the technology.
“is actually Amazon using This specific data for purposes beyond seller verification?” asked Matt Cagle, a technology in addition to civil liberties attorney at the ACLU of Northern California.
“Amazon should make the idea crystal clear they are not exploiting This specific sensitive face data to, for example, enrich the face surveillance product in which a coalition of 0 groups just demanded the company stop providing to governments,” he added, referencing the company’s controversial Rekognition service.
Whether an experiment or the beginning of a broader deployment, the seller facial verification process described to BuzzFeed News comes as Amazon works to purge its platform of the scammers in which skirt its rules to the detriment of Amazon customers. The company expressly forbids sellers coming from creating multiple accounts because the idea gives one particular seller with multiple storefronts an unfair advantage over competitors with just one.
“There are tons of what are called ghost or stealth accounts,” Chris McCabe, a former Amazon marketplace investigator in addition to owner of seller consulting firm ecommercechris.com, told BuzzFeed News. “Amazon needs to know there are actual people behind the accounts in which are being created, in addition to not the same person creating multiple accounts themselves.”
Amazon typically requires brand-new sellers to verify their identity through several documents, including a state-issued ID, a tax ID, a business bank account statement, a utility bill statement, a business address, in addition to business credit card.
“Everything has to match,” said Cynthia Stine, an Amazon seller consultant. “Sellers who fail verification are not allowed to reapply. They’re just finished.”
yet Amazon’s required documentation of sellers to verify their identities still leaves loopholes. McCabe said he’s been told by sellers in China, for example, in which they are running multiple seller accounts. He said some operations will incentivize international students to open seller accounts with their banking information in addition to identification then hand over the reigns to the fraud seller for a payment.
“The not bad news is actually the intention is actually to keep things fair, the bad news is actually there may be civil liberties issues,” James Thomson, a marketplace consultant in addition to partner at BuyBoxExperts, told BuzzFeed News. “The question is actually: Are there different technologies in which don’t involve This specific kind of thing?”
Amazon has long been interested in facial recognition, as evidenced by its work with Rekognition in addition to a series of patents featuring the technology. In October 2015, the company filed to patent technology where a buyer could approve a transaction using facial recognition in addition to prompts to perform gestures in front of a computer camera like a smile, blink, or a head tilt. This specific way, Amazon said the idea could avoid being “spoofed” by a person who might try to trick the system by holding up a picture of the account owner in front of the camera.
Already sellers are prepared to decline to submit a video of their faces to verify their identities. The news in which one seller was required to submit a video of their face sparked controversy among closed Amazon seller groups on Facebook where the news was first shared.
“None of the idea is actually safe. All of the idea can be hacked,” one Amazon seller told BuzzFeed News. “I don’t truly need my face in a database. the idea’s very Orwellian.”
Another seller told BuzzFeed News in which the additional security may “help that has a lot of normal offenders in addition to gamers yet not the worst offenders in which the idea is actually truly intended to filter.”
“Hopefully [the idea’s] not another example of everyone having to randomly suffer due to the need to crackdown,” he added.
The ACLU’s Cagle said “the idea would certainly not be a surprise if Amazon was using facial recognition” to verify sellers.
“Instead of acting to protect against the very real dangers of facial recognition technology, Amazon is actually embracing the idea even as Congress, the public, in addition to even its own workers raise significant concerns,” he said.