Amazon workers protest sale of facial recognition software program to police

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Employees at Amazon have demanded that their employer cease the sale of facial recognition software program and different companies to the US authorities. In a letter addressed to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and posted on the corporate’s inner wiki, workers mentioned that they “refuse to contribute to instruments that violate human rights,” citing the mistreatment of refugees and immigrants by ICE and the concentrating on of black activists by regulation enforcement. The letter follows comparable protests at Google and Microsoft.

“As ethically involved Amazonians, we demand a selection in what we construct, and a say in how it’s used,” says the letter, first reported by The Hill. The workers (it’s not clear what number of signed the letter) seek advice from the sale of pc companies by IBM to the Nazis as a worrying parallel. “IBM didn’t take duty then, and by the point their function was understood, it was too late,” says the letter. “We won’t let that occur once more.”

The workers name out two particular companies that Amazon ought to finish: the sale of facial recognition software program to regulation enforcement (marketed as Amazon Internet Providers Rekognition), and the sale of AWS cloud companies to Palantir (a knowledge analytics agency that gives “mission essential” software program to ICE).

Amazon’s sale of Rekognition software program to the police was first revealed by an ACLU investigation in Could, with the civil liberties group warning that the deployment of the know-how might be the start of automated mass surveillance in America. Palantir, in the meantime, has been working with ICE since 2014 below President Obama, and helps the company handle the stacks of private knowledge wanted to focus on and deport people.

The letter written by Amazon’s workers references the separation of kids from their households on the US border as a motivation for the protest. They write: “Within the face of this immoral US coverage, and the US’s more and more inhumane remedy of refugees and immigrants past this particular coverage, we’re deeply involved that Amazon is implicated, offering infrastructure and companies that allow ICE and DHS.”

This protest from Amazon is the newest outcry from Silicon Valley employees over work with the US authorities. In March, it was revealed that Google was serving to the Pentagon construct AI instruments to investigate drone surveillance footage. Workers protested and greater than a dozen even resigned, and because of this Google pulled out of the contract and introduced a brand new pledge to not develop AI weapons. Extra not too long ago, greater than 300 workers at Microsoft demanded that the corporate cease offering cloud companies to ICE. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella downplayed the work, saying the corporate was solely offering benign software program for duties like messaging and electronic mail.

It stays to be seen whether or not the protests at Microsoft or Amazon will have an effect on the businesses’ insurance policies, however the development of tech employees taking an lively stance on their employer’s work with the US authorities appears unlikely to finish any time quickly.

As seen by way of Gizmodo, you possibly can learn the complete letter from the Amazon workers beneath:

Expensive Jeff,

We’re troubled by the current report from the ACLU exposing our firm’s follow of promoting AWS Rekognition, a strong facial recognition know-how, to police departments and authorities companies. We don’t have to attend to learn the way these applied sciences can be used. We already know that within the midst of historic militarization of police, renewed concentrating on of Black activists, and the expansion of a federal deportation pressure presently engaged in human rights abuses — this can be one other highly effective instrument for the surveillance state, and finally serve to hurt essentially the most marginalized. We’re not alone on this view: over 40 civil rights organizations signed an open letter in opposition to the governmental use of facial recognition, whereas over 150,000 people signed one other petition delivered by the ACLU.

We additionally know that Palantir runs on AWS. And we all know that ICE depends on Palantir to energy its detention and deportation applications. Together with a lot of the world we watched in horror not too long ago as U.S. authorities tore youngsters away from their mother and father. Since April 19, 2018 the Division of Homeland Safety has despatched practically 2,000 youngsters to mass detention facilities. This remedy goes in opposition to U.N. Refugee Company pointers that say youngsters have the correct to stay united with their mother and father, and that asylum-seekers have a authorized proper to assert asylum. Within the face of this immoral U.S. coverage, and the U.S.’s more and more inhumane remedy of refugees and immigrants past this particular coverage, we’re deeply involved that Amazon is implicated, offering infrastructure and companies that allow ICE and DHS.

Know-how like ours is taking part in an more and more essential function throughout many sectors of society. What is obvious to us is that our growth and gross sales practices have but to acknowledge the duty that comes with this. Focusing solely on shareholder worth is a race to the underside, and one that we’ll not take part in.

We refuse to construct the platform that powers ICE, and we refuse to contribute to instruments that violate human rights.

As ethically involved Amazonians, we demand a selection in what we construct, and a say in how it’s used. We be taught from historical past, and we perceive how IBM’s techniques have been employed within the 1940s to assist Hitler. IBM didn’t take duty then, and by the point their function was understood, it was too late. We won’t let that occur once more. The time to behave is now.

We name on you to:

Cease promoting facial recognition companies to regulation enforcement

Cease offering infrastructure to Palantir and every other Amazon companions who allow ICE.

Implement sturdy transparency and accountability measures, that embrace enumerating which regulation enforcement companies and corporations supporting regulation enforcement companies are utilizing Amazon companies, and the way.

Our firm shouldn’t be within the surveillance enterprise; we shouldn’t be within the policing enterprise; we shouldn’t be within the enterprise of supporting those that monitor and oppress marginalized populations.

Sincerely,

Amazonians



Supply hyperlink – https://www.theverge.com/2018/6/22/17492106/amazon-ice-facial-recognition-internal-letter-protest

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