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Amazon Shareholders Seek to Restrict Facial Recognition Technology Sales to Government Agencies


People tend to think of Amazon as a big store on the internet. It is more than that. For example, in August of 2013, soon after Amazon founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos purchased the Washington Post, I wrote about Amazon’s Amazon Web Services having as customers hundreds of government agencies. Included among them is the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with which Amazon had a 10 years, 600 billion dollars contract to build private cloud servers inside CIA data centers.

Amazon is also seeking profit from selling to government agencies facial recognition technology that can aid in conducting mass surveillance. But, there is resistance from some Amazon shareholders who say such sales are bad business as well as just plain bad. A resolution proposed by some shareholders for consideration at Amazon’s annual meeting in the spring calls on the Amazon Board of Directors to “prohibit sales of facial recognition technology to government agencies unless the Board concludes, after an evaluation using independent evidence, that the technology does not cause or contribute to actual or potential violations of civil and human rights.”

Read here the complete resolution, which starts off noting that “shareholders are concerned Amazon’s facial recognition technology (‘Rekognition’) poses risk to civil and human rights and shareholder value.”
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