If A Government Agency Uses A Product To Break The Law, Is The Product Provider Responsible?

In two days (on December 13), Amazon has been asked to respond to questions from Congress about its Amazon Rekognition software. One of the questions is particularly interesting:

"Does Amazon conduct audits of Rekognition use by law enforcement to ensure (1) the software is not being abused for secretive government surveillance, (2) the software is not facilitating systems that disproportionately impact people based on protected characteristics in potential violation of federal civil rights laws, and (3) the software is not being used in violation of Amazon's terms of use? If so, what steps does Amazon take to end any such uses of Rekognition?"

PDF from Senator Markey's website

On the one hand, one could claim that it's ridiculous to require Amazon to investigate users of legally purchased software.

But on the other hand, there are actually precedents for this. For example, Facebook allows advertisers to target ads by demographic features. Ordinarily that's no problem - you don't want to sell gangsta rap music to white senior citizens - but it becomes more problematic when, say, using race as a factor to target housing ads, which is illegal. So Facebook implemented steps (or tried to implement steps) "to end any such uses." Link

So, what are the proper roles of manufacturers, distributors, and other providers - assuming, of course, that the sale of the product itself does not violate any laws? Is there a responsibility to check upon what the customers are doing with the product?

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