California lawmaker should recuse herself from negotiations on state privacy legislation –– close ties to Amazon Ring creates a conflict of interest
Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin proposed amendments to tear down key provisions of California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The changes she put forth directly benefit companies like her husband’s employer － Amazon. Jon Irwin, her husband, is the chief operating officer for Amazon Ring, a controversial home surveillance product.
Politico reported this potential conflict of interest and Irwin’s key role in pushing forth industry backed privacy reductions. In one key proposal, which was widely criticized by consumer protection groups, Assemblymember Irwin sought to expand the types of data that would not be covered in the CCPA. She also worked to remove "a provision requiring companies to disclose or delete data associated with ‘households’ upon request,” according to Politico. These proposed measures enable companies like Amazon Ring to continue to use our data without consent or accountability.
Evan Greer, deputy director of digital rights group Fight for the Future, issued the following statement: "We immediately call on Assemblymember Irwin to recuse herself from voting on the CCPA and any future measures related to consumer privacy. Her close ties to Amazon present a significant conflict of interest. The end result of allowing Irwin to vote would be to compromise landmark consumer privacy legislation and allow Amazon to continue creating a privately owned, for profit nationwide surveillance network without any oversight. We are investigating legal options for filing an official complaint related to this conflict of interest."
Amazon Ring has received widespread criticism for their partnerships with police departments in over 400 cities. These partnerships provide an end run around the democratic process and raise serious privacy and civil liberties concerns. Amazon gives police a warrantless process for requesting and storing unlimited footage, giving them a literal eye inside residents’ homes and the surrounding area, and in exchange, the police department markets Amazon’s surveillance technology. US Senator Ed Markey sent a letter to Amazon about the partnerships, and even The Monitoring Association, a security industry trade association, issued a statement expressing concern.
In lieu of federal legislation, the California Consumer Privacy Act is being seen as a national standard for privacy rights legislation throughout the country. The legislation protects Californians’ personal information and gives them the right to know what information is being collected, being sold, and who’s buying it. Such protections are a threat to Amazon Ring’s surveillance-based business model.
Fight for the Future has launched a national campaign calling on local elected officials to cancel police departments’ existing partnerships with Amazon and enact policies to prevent them from doing so in the future.