Amazon Proposal Highlights Human Rights Risks of Surveillance Tech
A shareholder proposal filed at Amazon by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood is going to a vote at the company’s annual general meeting on May 27, 2020. The proposal requests that Amazon assess its process for customer due diligence to determine whether customers’ use of its surveillance and computer vision products or cloud-base services contributes to human rights violations. Open Mic, an organization working to foster greater corporate accountability at technology companies, provides media coverage of the proposal and other shareholder proposals filed at Amazon here.
Amazon sells products and services that pose risks to human rights, including civil rights. Products of concern include the Ring Doorbell and the Neighbors App, facial recognition and surveillance technology, and elements of Amazon Web Services. These products may be used to further discrimination in policing, infringe on privacy, or violate civil liberties. In the proposal, Amazon shareholders express concerns that these technologies compound historical and systemic inequity, including disproportionate use of surveillance on communities of color, even if used according to Amazon’s guidelines. For example, widespread partnerships between Ring Doorbell and police departments lack oversight and compliance mechanisms to protect consumers’ privacy rights. Amazon’s partnership with Palantir, the subject of employee and customer protests, enables Immigration and Customs Enforcement to identify, detain, and deport individuals and families, often violating human rights.
Amazon is responsible for ensuring its customers do not use surveillance and cloud products to violate human rights. Investor Advocates for Social Justice urges shareholder to vote for the proposal at Amazon on Customer Due Diligence.