Only 2% of Amazon shareholders vote against giving facial recognition to government

Amazon shareholders voted nearly unanimously to reject a proposal to cease promoting facial recognition tech to government companies, and even a research of its results garnered little help, successfully green-lighting Big Brother.

The proposal to cease promoting Amazon’s ‘Rekognition’ program to authorities was rejected by 97.6 % of the corporate’s shareholders, in accordance to a regulatory submitting launched on Friday, whereas a proposal to research Rekognition’s damaging influence on civil rights and privateness repulsed 72.5 %. CEO Jeff Bezos, who controls 16 % of the corporate’s inventory, voted against each, and Amazon’s board condemned them.

Climate change was extra well-liked, with solely 70.2 % rejecting a proposal for the corporate to challenge a report on how it could handle the phenomenon.

Last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission dominated Amazon had to vote on each facial recognition proposals at its annual assembly after they have been introduced ahead by activist shareholders involved the corporate was promoting a surveillance system “available to violate rights and goal communities of colour.” The firm had argued the proposals have been “insignificant to its enterprise,” however was overruled by the regulator.

A bunch of “socially accountable traders” holding shares in Amazon implored the corporate to cease promoting the tech to legislation enforcement final yr, citing each the potential for abuse by American authorities and fears the tech might find yourself within the arms of overseas governments, “together with authoritarian regimes.”

The shareholders joined a whole lot of Amazon staff, the American Civil Liberties Union, and no less than 70 extra civil rights teams in writing a number of letters to Bezos asking that Amazon stop gross sales of Rekognition to legislation enforcement. The worker letter singled out the potential for abuse by the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration & Customs Enforcement as trigger for explicit concern, whereas the ACLU pointed to Amazon’s personal advertising and marketing supplies, which tout Rekognition’s means to monitor “individuals of curiosity” in actual time, as “primed for abuse within the arms of governments.”

Even the cops are anxious about giving off a “Big Brother vibe,” in accordance to inner emails obtained by the ACLU from police in Washington County, Oregon, an early adopter of Rekognition. Studies have demonstrated the software program’s performance drops sharply when non-white faces are concerned.

While governments and legislation enforcement are hungry for facial recognition tech, rights teams have referred to as for warning, warning it’s not as correct as its cheerleaders suppose and the potential for abuse is huge. The metropolis of San Francisco banned the use of facial recognition by native authorities earlier this month, and related initiatives are into account in Oakland, California and Somerville, Massachusetts.