Amazon workers wrote to Jeff Bezos protesting its facial recognition contracts with police

Getty/Chip SomodevillaAmazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
  • Amazon employees have protested about the company’s facial recognition contracts with US government and police.
  • They wrote to CEO Jeff Bezos pointing to Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which has separated thousands of children from their parents at the US border.
  • They said Amazon was enabling the departments that enforced the policy.
  • Employees at Google and Microsoft have protested similar contracts involving their firms.

Employees at big tech firms are in open rebellion over the fact their employers sell their services to government and law enforcement.

According to Gizmodo’s Kate Conger, staffers at Amazon are the latest to protest over the firm’s contracts with US law enforcement for its Rekognition facial recognition technology.

Specifically, they’re protesting US President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy to the US-Mexico border, which has resulted in scores of children being separated from their parents and being held in detention centres. They said Amazon is enabling the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Gizmodo reported that the employees wrote:

“Along with much of the world we watched in horror recently as U.S. authorities tore children away from their parents. In the face of this immoral U.S. policy, and the U.S.’s increasingly inhumane treatment of refugees and immigrants beyond this specific policy, we are deeply concerned that Amazon is implicated, providing infrastructure and services that enable ICE and DHS.”

The letter also asks that Amazon boot data-mining company Palantir off its cloud services. Palantir is a shadowy firm used by US intelligence services and founded by controversial Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel.

Free speech group ACLU found in May that Amazon was selling real-time facial recognition software to the police, which allows some departments to scan mugshots against real footage.

Earlier this month, some Amazon shareholders also called on Jeff Bezos to cut the firm’s Rekognition contracts, saying they posed a privacy risk to consumers.

Employees at Microsoft wrote a letter to chief executive Satya Nadella protesting the company’s involvement with ICE, while Google engineers reportedly refused to build technologies that would help the firm win military contracts.

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