Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos got through today’s Congressional hearing without being asked a single question on consumer privacy violations, Amazon Ring’s police partnerships, or selling racially biased facial recognition software to law enforcement regardless the high likeness of disproportionately misidentifying people of color, women and transgender people.
The virtual format of the hearing did little to quell the political circus. A circus that was inevitable with the joint testimony format Bezos and other CEOs required in exchange for the testimony. The joint testimony allowed the CEOs to avoid questions and provide little depth for those questions that did get answered－obscuring critical details needed for Congressional investigation and accountability.
Bezos avoided much scrutiny as lawmakers largely focused on the other tech CEOs. Even the committee members who maintained the narrow focus of the antitrust hearing failed to ask Bezos any substantive questions about Amazon’s surveillance network and consumer privacy.
Fight for the Future deputy director Evan Greer (she/her) issued the following thoughts in response to today’s hearing:
"In the midst of protesters in Portland and other cities being violently policed by federal agents who are using surveillance technology to track down activists and throw them in unmarked vehicles, it’s mind blowing that Bezos was not grilled on Amazon’s private surveillance network.
We’ve gotten to a point where we blatantly disregard invasive technology vacuuming up data on our children, our families, and our neighbors. Congress failed to hold Amazon accountable for their surveillance based business model that violates privacy rights, civil liberties, and public safety.
It can’t go without mention that this hearing failed epically when it comes to race. Our country is literally having a national conversation on ending systemic racism and somehow doesn’t come up in their questioning of Amazon. How does a company that weaponizes thinly veiled racism to build its surveillance dragnet, uses unfair practices to drive small black-owned businesses out of the marketplace, needed a reporter to tell them a racist company party was bad, and allows their Neighbors App to facilitate racial profiling and the criminalizing of Black and brown people－not get taken to task on its racial issues?
This is ridiculous. It’s clear we need another hearing with Jeff Bezos by himself where he can’t hide behind other CEOs or be coddled with a "narrow focused" investigation. From Amazon retaliating against warehouse workers’ demands for safe workplace practices in the midst of COVID to building a surveillance state for police and ICE, the technology giant poses an imminent danger to us all.
The only way we’re going to stop them is with a full Congressional investigation, that includes real testimony before Congress and the American people, where Bezos provides meaningful, detailed information that can curb Amazon’s power and put an end to their surveillance state."
50,000 supporters join Fight for the Future and their partner organizations in calling on Congress for a full investigation into Amazon and additional testimony from CEO Jeff Bezos.