Breaking news: Civil rights groups score Amazon win—and pledge to keep fighting on facial recognition

Posted May 18, 2021, 8:39 PM

Amazon just announced plans to extend its moratorium on the sale of facial recognition to police until further notice. This announcement comes one week after MediaJustice, the Athena Coalition, Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, Mijente, MpowerChange and more than 20 other organizations launched the Eyes on Amazon Campaign—demanding Amazon permanently stop selling Rekognition, their facial recognition technology, to the police. Amazon’s announcement is a victory for our diverse coalition. Many of our members have organized against Amazon’s surveillance regime for years and their statement today shows that we have every reason to press them harder.

"Amazon knows they are on the wrong side of this issue. They only made this announcement because racial justice, privacy rights, and worker advocacy groups are demanding a permanent ban of their racist facial recognition technology. If Amazon thinks they can dodge pressure by announcing this PR half-measure, they are very wrong. To demonstrate true care for our privacy or Black lives, they must end their 2,000+ Ring-police partnerships, cut ties with ICE, and permanently stop selling Rekognition," said Evan Greer (she/her) deputy director of Fight for the Future. "And what does ‘until further notice’ even mean? Basically, at any time Amazon could flip the switch and resume selling facial recognition technology to the police. Facial recognition technology is too dangerous for it to be implemented at the whims of corporations like Amazon. We need Congress to take action and pass a federal ban on facial recognition now."

The Eyes on Amazon Coalition will hold a week of action June 7th - June 11th to drive actions against Amazon’s support of surveillance-powered policing. Fight for the Future is taking part in the week of action and leading a virtual protest on June 10th.

The virtual protest side, ProtestAmazon.org, calls on the public to help shut down Amazon’s surveillance-powered police state: "Whether it’s selling invasive surveillance technology, partnering with police, or creating the backbone infrastructure for mass deportations, Amazon is central to militarized policing. Its practices allow racist policing to be more efficient, expanding the criminalization of Black and brown people and creating more opportunities for repressive police violence. This needs to stop."

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