Over a dozen groups call for a full congressional investigation in the online giant citing threats to privacy, security, and civil liberties posed by Alexa, Ring, and Rekognition.
Amazon must face a full congressional investigation to answer questions about threats posed by the company’s “ever-expanding surveillance empire.”
That’s the demand from over a dozen groups who on Monday kicked off a campaign urging lawmakers to probe the digital giant’s products including Alexa, Rekognition, and Ring over privacy, security, and civil liberties concerns.
“During this holiday season, people are going to buy Amazon’s product unaware of the surveillance features and the threats they pose to their personal data and civil liberties,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future. “Meanwhile, Amazon gains access to video footage and sensitive audio recordings from millions more Americans and their families.”
“Amazon’s surveillance empire,” she added, “is spreading at an alarming rate.”
Fight for the Future joins other groups including Color of Change, Council on American-Islamic Relations-SFBA, and CREDO Action in the Investigate Amazon campaign, which accuses the company of having a business model “all about using monopolistic practices to sweep up and exploit data from our private and public lives.”
The groups say problems include the fact that Amazon’s Alexa records surrounding conversations and its Rekognition technology allows law enforcement to tracks anyone’s movement in public spaces.
Of particular concern are partnerships between Amazon and local police departments in which the tech company provides warrantless access to law enforcement from Ring doorbell cameras. That data can then be shared with agencies including ICE or used to target protesters. Such partnerships are of heightened concern for risk for black, brown, and low-income communities, which are already subjected to unjust policing practices.
Ring also threatens people’s privacy, as bystanders who’ve given no consent have personal data recorded, and there are more general security concerns because Ring cameras don’t use what is known as end-to-end encryption.
Jelani Drew, campaigner manager at CREDO Action, called Ring “a perfect yet horrifying example of how Amazon, in partnership with law enforcement, is effectively making each and every one of our homes an extension of the police.”
In light of such threats, the campaign is urging people to tell their lawmakers, “Amazon needs to be held accountable. I’m calling on you to investigate Amazon.”
The campaign began days after Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) released “chilling” findings from his investigation into Ring. The senator said in a statement that “Ring’s policies are an open door for privacy and civil liberty violations.”
Fight for the Future’s Greer pointed to that investigation in her statement Monday, saying it “confirms that Amazon has zero protections in place to protect our security and civil liberties.”
“At this point,” she said, “lawmakers need to escalate the investigation and hold hearings demanding answers and accountability from Amazon when it comes to their surveillance empire and monopolistic business practices.”
Trump boasts he’s about to declare Antifa a ‘Terrorist Organization’
Donald Trump took to Twitter on Sunday morning to announce that he will be "designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization."
The brief tweet followed several others blaming violence at George Floyd protests on the loosely organized group of anarchists.
The president wrote, "The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization."
You can see the tweets below:
The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2020
Make cops pay for their crimes and end ‘qualified immunity’: conservative columnist
Writing for the conservative Bulwark, the vice president for criminal justice at the Cato Institute explained that the time has come for police officers who have been accused of crimes be treated like any other Americans and not be handed the shield of "qualified immunity" that protects them from paying the price for breaking the law.
As Cato's Clark Neily wrote, in light of the death of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers -- now all fired -- it is time for a reappraisal of legal protections provided to law enforcement personnel.
Big hints lie in the official complaint against Derek Chauvin — and surprising details are left out: ex-prosecutor
In a column for CNN, former federal prosecutor Elie Honig reviewed the criminal complaint filed against ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and said it gives clues as to the direction prosecutors are likely to follow to convict the alleged killer of Georg Floyd -- but it also leaves out key elements of the case that should be brought before a jury.
As Honig wrote, the case against Chauvin is strong but may not go far enough.