15+ organizations demand transparency about Amazon's election data breaches

Posted October 1, 2020, 11:42 AM

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IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, October 1st
Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, press@fightforthefuture.org

Today, more than a dozen privacy and civil rights organizations released a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos condemning Amazon’s failure to secure election data and demanding Amazon disclose all instances of security breaches related to election data, the implications of such breaches, and the actions it took to address them.

Last year, Reuters reported three separate instances of voter data being exposed. Amazon responded it was due to user error. Since then, Amazon has released no information about the scale or any further response to these security issues. 

"It’s reasonable to expect a corporation the size of Amazon handling contracts for the government to devote resources to ensuring those accounts are safe. It’s clear that Amazon hasn’t met this expectation and isn’t doing everything they can to stop security breaches because they keep happening," the letter reads. "If a car seat manufacturer didn’t provide proper instructions to make sure people installed their car seats correctly and it put infants in harm’s way, people would blame the manufacturer for its negligence. The car seat manufacturer would be expected to do everything necessary to prevent infants from dying."

Amazon provides election services for over 40 states. With such a large role in election systems, the tech giant cannot simply take responsibility for the infrastructure and leave users of their services to fend for themselves. There is too much at stake.

"Amazon is the most profitable corporation on the planet and Jeff Bezos is the richest person in human history. If a company this size wants to sell its software to governments for election purposes, it has a responsibility to ensure that those systems are properly configured and to be transparent about the steps they’re taking to secure our elections. We can’t let Amazon’s greed corrode what’s left of our democracy, said Evan Greer (she/her), Deputy Director of Fight for the Future.

"But so far Amazon has responded to these disturbing breaches by placing blame and putting the onus on the user to protect voter information, knowing that these systems demand the highest degree of security, transparency, and accountability. This is the same thing Amazon did with the Ring hacks. A man literally hacked into Ring cameras to spy on and harass a child and Amazon blamed it on user error. Our families, our elections, and our democracy are all too important for Amazon’s nonchalant, passive response to security threats. This election is critical. Major issues—like healthcare, immigration, digital rights, and food security—are on the ballot. People’s lives are on the line. Amazon needs to be transparent about these security issues and the steps it’s taking to address these gaps in security."

With the election weeks away, the groups feel it’s incumbent upon Amazon to be transparent about the gaps in the security of the election system so the public can assess the threat and the steps Amazon is taking. 

The signing organizations include: AI Now Institute, Athena, Color of Change, Constitutional Alliance, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Just Futures Law, Kairos Action, Media Alliance, Media Justice, MPower Change, Open Markets Institute, RootsAction.org, Partnership for Working Families, Secure Justice, S.T.O.P. - The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, Woodhull Freedom Foundation, and X-Lab.

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