Amazon shareholders reject facial recognition sale ban to governments

Amazon shareholders have rejected two proposals that would have requested the firm not to sell its facial recognition technologies to government shoppers.

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The breakdown of the votes is not right away recognized. A filing with the vote tally is anticipated later this week.

The 1st proposal would have requested Amazon to limit the sale of its Rekognition technologies to police, law enforcement and federal agencies. A second resolution would have demanded an independent human and civil rights assessment into the use of the technologies.

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It followed accusations that the technologies has bias and inaccuracies, which critics say can be employed to racially discriminate against minorities.

The votes had been non-binding, permitting the firm to reject the outcome of the vote.

But the vote was pretty much inevitably set to fail. Following his divorce, Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos retains 12 % of the firm’s stock as nicely as the voting rights in his ex-wife’s remaining stake. The firm’s leading 4 institutional shareholders, such as The Vanguard Group, Blackrock, FMR and State Street, collectively hold about the very same quantity of voting rights as Bezos.

The resolutions failed regardless of an work by the ACLU to back the measures, which the civil liberties group accused the tech giant of getting “non-responsive” to privacy issues.

In remarks, Shankar Narayan, ACLU of Washington, mentioned: “The fact that there needed to be a vote on this is an embarrassment for Amazon’;s leadership team. It demonstrates shareholders do not have confidence that company executives are properly understanding or addressing the civil and human rights impacts of its role in facilitating pervasive government surveillance.”

“While we have yet to see the exact breakdown of the vote, this shareholder intervention should serve as a wake-up call for the company to reckon with the real harms of face surveillance and to change course,” he mentioned.

The civil liberties group rallied investors ahead of the Wednesday annual meeting in Seattle, exactly where the tech giant has its headquarters. In a letter, the group mentioned the sale of Amazon’s facial recognition tech to government agencies “fundamentally alters the balance of power between government and individuals, arming governments with unprecedented power to track, control, and harm people.”

“As shown by a long history of other surveillance technologies, face surveillance is certain to be disproportionately aimed at immigrants, religious minorities, people of color, activists, and other vulnerable communities,” the letter added.

The ACLU mentioned investors and shareholders had the energy “to protect Amazon from its own failed judgment.”

Amazon pushed back against claims that the technologies is inaccurate, and named on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to block the shareholder proposal prior to its annual shareholder meeting. The government agency blocked Amazon’s efforts to cease the vote, amid developing scrutiny of its solution.

Amazon spokesperson Lauren Lynch mentioned on Tuesday, prior to the meeting, that the firm operates “in line with our code of conduct which governs how we run our business and the use of our products.”

An e mail to the firm following Wednesday’s meeting was unreturned at the time of writing.

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