Protesters hit Amazon over facial recognition, ICE ties

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Protesters hit Amazon over facial recognition, ICE ties

On Amazon's Prime Day, activists plan to deliver 250,000 petitions to CEO Jeff Bezos’ Fifth Avenue residence.
July 15, 2019

Anyone attending last week’s Amazon Web Services Summit likely witnessed groups of protesters rallying outside the Javits Convention Center or disrupting speakers inside the event, protesting the company’s ties to federal agencies enforcing President Trump “zero tolerance” immigration policy. The demonstrations came just days before U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s planned raids across the country, including in New York City. 

Amazon has often been criticized for selling its facial recognition technology to government agencies and for providing the underlying infrastructure to companies that work with ICE and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The issue even came up during the company’s plans to bring a new headquarters to Queens, as executives faced questions from New York City Councilmembers about its ties to government agencies. On Thursday at the AWS summit, protesters, including groups like Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change, and Tech Workers Coalition New York called for Amazon to stop working with ICE. This latest push prompted a response from the company calling for more “clarity and legislation” on acceptable uses of artificial intelligence. 

But activists aren’t stopping at last week’s protests. On Monday – the first day of Prime Day, Amazon’s massive annual sales event – they plan to deliver 250,000 petitions to CEO Jeff Bezos’ multimillion dollar Fifth Avenue residence, again calling on the company to cut its ties with ICE.

For the rest of today's tech news, head over to First Read Tech.

Annie McDonough
is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.
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