by Graham Pierrepoint
Amazon Workers Ask Jeff Bezos to Ditch Facial Recognition Software --
Amazon has grown to be one of the most profitable businesses and brands the world over. CEO Jeff Bezos was briefly the world’s richest person during 2017, and since that time, his empire has only continued to grow – not bad for a company that started life as a tiny online bookstore in the early 90s! The firm is allegedly also in the process of manufacturing and supplying certain facial recognition tools, devices and more besides to US law enforcement and Homeland Security – and it’s safe to say that some of the workers and shareholders on board the brand are not happy about the turn of events at all – even bringing Adolf Hitler into the mix.
19 shareholders in the brand have already petitioned Bezos against continuing to market facial recognition tools to governmental and police bodies as a result of concern over the potential in stock value dipping – but some workers have penned a letter to the CEO with a rather more ethical slant on the issue, advising that they are far from comfortable with certain agencies enforcing President Trump’s zero tolerance immigration policies using their products. The letter comes at a critical time for US immigration, as recent news regard family separations at the border have gripped global news, eventually leading to Trump backing down on separating children from their detained parents.
▶ Amazon Workers Ask Jeff Bezos to Ditch Facial Recognition Software
“As ethically concerned Amazonians, we demand a choice in what we build, and a say in how it is used,” the letter states, according to The Independent. “We learn from history, and we understand how IBM’s systems were employed in the 1940s to help Hitler. (…) IBM did not take responsibility then, and by the time their role was understood, it was too late. (…) We will not let that happen again. The time to act is now.” Strong words indeed – and at the time of writing, we are yet to hear an official response from the brand or from Bezos himself.
Amazon’s concerns are legitimized by some experts in WWII – who feel that IBM had a role to play in technology used at Auschwitz during the Holocaust. However, it will remain to be seen whether or not trade will continue in such a way – with both workers and shareholders increasingly concerned over where this current supply chain will lead, time will tell what direction the brand goes in next.