IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, November 25th
Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, firstname.lastname@example.org
Amazon may face Congressional scrutiny as it approaches all-important Holiday shopping season.
Today, more than a dozen civil rights organizations, launched InvestigateAmazon.com, a major new campaign petitioning lawmakers to bring Amazon executives, including Amazon Ring CEO Jamie Siminoff, before Congress to answer questions about their business practices and the threats their nationwide surveillance network pose. The groups, with millions of members between them, will flood lawmakers with calls and emails throughout this holiday week.
The participating groups－which include Fight for the Future, Media Justice, Color of Change, CREDO Action, Demand Progress, Constitutional Alliance, The Tor Project, MPower Change, Presente, Secure Justice, RootsAction, Council on American-Islamic Relations-SFBA, Nation Digital Inclusion Alliance, Justice For Muslims Collective, Restore The Fourth Inc., New York Communities for Change, Media Alliance, X-Lab, and Media Mobilizing Project－say in their call on Congress to investigate Amazon that:
- Surveillance is at the heart of Amazon’s monopolistic business model.
- Amazon’s Alexa records our conversations. Their Rekognition technology identifies our faces and tracks our movement in the public sphere. Their Ring doorbell company partners with local police to provide backdoor, warrantless access to mass surveillance footage collected from millions of American homes and neighborhoods.
- Amazon’s ever-expanding surveillance empire threatens our privacy and civil liberties, especially in brown and black communities already vulnerable to racial profiling and heightened surveillance.
- These threats are coupled with security concerns. Ring cameras don’t use end to end encryption and have already leaked customers’ Wi-Fi passwords to open networks leaving users vulnerable to cyber-attacks, hackers, and foreign governments.
Amazon’s Ring partnerships with police departments are noted as one of the most egregious examples of their surveillance empire.
There has been widespread concern about Amazon-police partnerships. Last week, U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Chris Coons of Delaware and Gary Peters of Michigan sent a letter to Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos questioning Ring’s data security and the possibility of the system being hacked or accessed by foreign governments.
The Senators’ letter comes out on the heels of Sen. Markey releasing findings from this investigation into Amazon’s Ring. His findings reveal Amazon fails to provide any meaningful safeguards to protect civil liberties.
While the groups are encouraged by the Senator’s efforts, they maintain the need for a full congressional investigation with hearings, and eventual legislation to prevent surveillance based business models, like Amazons, from harming the public, other businesses, and our democracy.
The following can be attributed to Evan Greer, Deputy Director of Fight for the Future, (pronouns: she/her): " 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. Meanwhile, Amazon gains access to video footage and sensitive audio recordings from millions more Americans and their families. Amazon’s surveillance empire is spreading at an alarming rate. Sen. Markey’s investigation confirms that Amazon has zero protections in place to protect our security and civil liberties. At this point, 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."
The following can be attributed to Jelani Drew, campaigner manager at CREDO Action: "Amazon has too much access to our everyday lives and is relentlessly trying to gain more through surveillance technology. Amazon’s Ring in particular is 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. Congress needs to intervene immediately to put an end to this heightened corporate surveillance that makes us less free and less safe."
The following can be attributed to CAIR National Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas: "Amazon devices are in our homes listening to our most intimate conversations and affixed to front doors where they create an in-real-time record of all that happens in our neighborhoods,” said CAIR National Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas. “This pervasiveness, combined with Amazon’s privacy-averse disposition, creates an unprecedented threat to the civil liberties of all Americans.”
The following can be attributed to Alex Marthews, Restore The Fourth: “Amazon’s police partnerships run Rings around the Fourth Amendment. We should be able to expect to move around freely in public without being scanned as potential suspects.”
The following can be attributed to Scott Roberts, Senior Criminal Justice Campaign Director at Color of Change: "Color of Change is deeply concerned by Amazon’s ever-growing for-profit surveillance empire. As the nation’s largest online civil rights organization we know many of our members have no choice but to interact with Amazon and their products, and we understand how that puts their safety at risk. We know mass surveillance and "broken windows" policing don’t keep our communities safe, and we must hold corporations like Amazon accountable for their attempts to profit from these failed policing practices. Targeted mass surveillance only increases law enforcement’s reach into our lives and creates opportunities for injustices in vulnerable communities. Congress should act immediately to ensure the safety of Black and brown communities from Amazon’s various surveillance practices."