Amazon shareholders concerned about facial recognition technology
In May 2018, more than 30 US-based civil society organisations sent a public letter to Amazon, asking the company to stop providing its facial recognition system – Rekognition – to the US government. This month, several Amazon shareholders wrote to the company’s CEO Jeff Bezos, expressing concerns over Rekognition and the selling of the technology to US law enforcement agencies. The shareholders are concerned about the potential use of Rekognition to ‘ultimately violate civil and human rights’ and ‘to unfairly and disproportionately target and surveil people of colour, immigrants, and civil society organisations’. The letter also outlines concerns over the potential sale of the technology to foreign governments, including authoritarian regimes, which may use it to ‘identify and detain democracy advocates’. The company is asked to ‘immediately halt the expansion, further development and marketing of Rekognition’ to all governments until guidelines and policies are in place to safeguard human rights. [21 June update] According to media reports, Amazon employees are also asking the company to stop selling Rekognition to law enforcement agencies.