back to article Amazon staffers protest giant's 'support of the surveillance state'

Amazon workers have reportedly called on their bosses to stop selling facial recognition kit to cops and spies, and slammed its links to data analytics biz Palantir. Amid the tech industry's intense efforts to prove to the public that they are not corporate monsters, Washington DC publication The Hill has reported that Amazon …

  1. steviebuk Silver badge

    Not really knowing...

    ...Bezos but thinking I do, I suspect he'll reply with "You're perfectly entitled to get a job elsewhere, at another company of your choosing."

    1. John G Imrie
      Joke

      Re: Not really knowing...

      Bloody upperty staff, they will be wanting a pay rise next

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not really knowing...

        Having worked for Amazon (out of pure curiosity) I suspect they'll be shipped off to the arctic when nobody's looking.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Not really knowing...

          Having worked for Amazon (out of pure curiosity) I suspect they'll be shipped off to the arctic when nobody's looking.

          But will shipping be free? Is Bezos a Prime member?

          Simply disappearing the employees seems inefficient. Surely Whole Foods could find some shelf space for Amazon Soylent Food Product.

    2. TheVogon

      Re: Not really knowing...

      "We refuse to contribute to tools that violate human rights"

      So they have stopped work on their warehouse staff management systems?

  2. Geoff Campbell

    Hmmmmm

    "We refuse to do <list of stuff>!"

    "...can we have our pay now, please?"

    Remember, a principle is not a principle until it has cost you money (or some reasonable analogue thereof). You don't want to work on strategic projects that your employer has identified? Leave. Make the world a better place by your actions, rather than by bleating on pointlessly.

    Yeah, downvote away. You know you want to.

    GJC

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmmmm

      I have my Principles then, as I voted Brexit despite working for a German company and knowing that my branch may well be close down because of it.

      For the record I found the whole Brexit debate to be poorly handled on both sides as financial forecast by a government longer than 6 months out is total fantasy. so the money argument over what is a minimum multi-decade exercise is rubbish.

      I voted to leave because I feel that the EU is not a democratic enterprise and shows no interest in fixing its brutal problems (The southern European economies, CAP, Fisheries, Not having its accounts signed off, etc, etc).

      In the end, I would have voted to stay if I thought that there was any hope of this changing for the better, but after Cameron came back from the EU like a naughty schoolboy with a flea in his ear I felt enough was enough (Though I dought he negated hard or in good faith).

      Sorry for the rant but being treated like a bigoted retard because I have a mind irritates me immensely.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmmmm

        >>Sorry for the rant but being treated like a bigoted retard because I have a mind irritates me immensely<<

        You are not alone! Rational debate on Brexit is thin on the ground.

        1. IsJustabloke
          Meh

          Re: Hmmmmm

          "You are not alone! Rational debate on Brexit is thin on the ground."

          On all sides of the "debate"

      2. Geoff Campbell
        Facepalm

        Re: Hmmmmm

        You don't feel strongly enough about it to post under your own name, I note :-)

        GJC

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmmmm

          You don't feel strongly enough about it to post under your own name, I note :-)

          Given that any kind of support for the leave vote on these forums means downvoted until your name smokes I am gonna say no.

        2. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Hmmmmm

          You don't feel strongly enough about it to post under your own name, I note :-)

          I don't blame him. These are scary times to say the least where we don't know where things are headed. The feeling is that governments will quell dissent in a less than a calm manner at the rate things are going. Companies are playing to the government. So expect the worst.

      3. The First Dave

        Re: Hmmmmm

        @AC: "I feel that the EU is not a democratic enterprise"

        Unlike Westminster?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmmmm

          Unlike Westminster?

          At least that group of B£$%&%£s is close enough that we can hang em when the time comes, good luck even finding out whoever screwed you over in Europe leave out any chance of getting them removed from office.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmmmm

          Unlike Westminster?

          It does often feel like the referendum was a contest to decide whether Brussels was worse than Westminster, doesn't it?

          For the record, I voted for Westminster as the bigger bastards. It was a close thing, mind.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmmmm

        Some in Government are looking like they are sticking to their principles over brexit...

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmmmm

        Well the CAP is very different from what it once was and the current UK government seems to be happy enough with it to continue its provisions long after Brexit; and of course they have already agreed to remain signed up to the EU fisheries policy indefinitely.

        "Not having its accounts signed off"

        I think you're a tad out of date with that one - by at least 10 years.

        I see the UK government are giving the BoE 1.2 billion pounds in return for which the BoE will move 127 billion of UK debt onto their balance sheet, reducing the national debt by over 5% of GDP. The accounting rules for normal businesses simply dont apply to nations (or banks).

      6. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Hmmmmm

        the EU is not a democratic enterprise and shows no interest in fixing its brutal problems

        The problem is that the EU isn't the international super-state that people accuse it of being. Democratic national governments sign up for stuff and then don't follow through or there is a change of national government and they change their minds. Democracy is really the problem - or, perhaps, to look at it another way, the EU is perhaps trying to do some things that national democracies plus qualified majority voting by national governments can't really deliver. That doesn't necessarily invalidate the entire project or mean that an alternative would necessarily be an improvement. YMMV, etc...

      7. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Hmmmmm

        "the EU is not a democratic enterprise and shows no interest in fixing its brutal problems"

        I wouldn't hold the current British government up as any sort of role model, for either democracy or willingness to fix problems. Certainly I would have thought that remaining in the EU and attempting to force some changes for the better might have been the way forward. But that would mean actually talking to the other countries, not just blaming them for everything that ever went wrong.

    2. walatam

      Re: Hmmmmm

      Leave. Make the world a better place by your actions

      If everyone who disagrees does this then you end up with a monoculture and no organisation wants that, surely? Staying (and "bleating") means you help diversity and, directly, help the organisation become resistant to the problems of a homogeneous workforce (being wiped out by a single event / disease / competitor etc). In other words, you change the world by pushing against it.

    3. JoeCool

      Re: Hmmmmm

      They are trying to give a corporation a conscience, and doing it from within.

      That doesn't fit your understanding of actions ? Then post your attempt to publicly shame your CEO into social responsibility.

      You can bet a senseless rant that reveals the poster to hold moronic views described with trite cliches is getting downvoted.

    4. JohnFen

      Re: Hmmmmm

      "a principle is not a principle until it has cost you money"

      What nonsense. Perhaps the sentiment that you were trying for was that the true test of a principled stand is if you continue to hold them when holding them is disadvantageous to you. That could be monetary disadvantage, but usually it's something worse.

      There's something to be said for staying and trying to effect change from within. There's also something to be said for leaving. The right action depends on the person.

      For my part, since I don't work for Amazon (or Google or any of the other awful companies), what I'm doing is trying to make sure as little of my money goes to them as possible, and encouraging others to do the same.

      We need to stop feeding our corporate overlords, especially when they work against, or help those who work against, us.

      1. Geoff Campbell

        Re: Hmmmmm @JohnFen

        You missed off the "(or some analogue thereof)" from the bit you quoted, which says what you tried to correct me on, in four words rather than four paragraphs.

        Until a principle has cost you something important, it's just an opinion, and everyone has a shedload of those puppies.

        GJC

        1. JohnFen

          Re: Hmmmmm @JohnFen

          "Until a principle has cost you something important, it's just an opinion, and everyone has a shedload of those puppies."

          Then we agree. I was just nitpicking at bringing "monetary cost" into it. The "something important" might be money, but usually it's something more valuable than money.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmmmm

      Exactly. I believe it was "Citizen of the Galaxy" that drove that point home. I do not check either my ethics nor my morals for any reason and that has been made abundantly clear to anyone that might need reminding, especially my chain of command.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not Really New

    I in no way condone this @#%$ but I do wonder why it counts as news.

    Look at any of the mega-corps of their time period and you will find hookups to oppressive governments. Take some time to look into the stuff IBM, Bosh, Hitachi, G&E, Unilever Just to name a few got up to in WW2.

    Large corporations are pretty much all moral black hole's sucking in money as fast as the can and not giving a damn what else gets chewed up on the way.

    As such the current wave of stories about the internet corps is only mildly interesting because the complaints are publicly coming from within the companies themselves.

    1. JohnFen

      Re: Not Really New

      This. It's amazing how many people forget that the US government is no longer really distinct from corporate america. We are a corporate state, rapidly devolving into a corporate dystopia.

    2. JohnFen

      Re: Not Really New

      "Large corporations are pretty much all moral black hole's"

      Exactly.

      Corporations are not living things that have stuff like ethics, morals, compassion, or anything recognizable as human. They are (and are intentionally designed to be) engines of economic production, and that is their sole concern.

      Expecting moral or ethical behavior from a corporation makes as much sense as milking a cow and expecting that it will produce beer.

      That said, the fact that they're engines of economic production means that they can be made to adhere to expectations of ethical behavior. All it takes is to ensure that they'll make more profit that way.

  4. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    OK

    Are they taking a position on the Amazon Echo?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Are they taking a position on the Amazon Echo?

      ... the Amazon Echo?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yet again people look the other way without getting to the problem itself which is the lawmakers that allow the the creation of the surveillance state, is this now a new theme? Lets protest company x over problem y because it makes them feel good to be doing something but in reality it changes absolutely nothing.

    1. usbac

      Yeah, they think pressuring their CEO for doing what CEOs are supposed to (even required by law, in some cases) do for their companies, is going to help. The CEO is legally responsibility is to generate as much revenue for the company as possible.

      These same people (who I happen to agree with), need to focus on voting out the oppressive, power hungry scumbag politicians that are buying these service from Amazon.

      Even though I agree with what they are saying, if I was the CEO, I would tell them to go work elsewhere if they don't like the work they are doing. If they were my employees, they would do the work assigned to them, or they would be gone.

      As people above have said, there is a consequence for standing up for one's beliefs. If you aren't willing to accept the consequences, then why should anyone listen to you? That's the problem today, people moan and wail about things, but aren't willing to sacrifice for their beliefs. Not many anyway. We've become a society of cowardly complainers.

      1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
        Facepalm

        "We've become a society of cowardly complainers."

        Posted without apparent irony, I see.

      2. JohnFen

        "The CEO is legally responsibility is to generate as much revenue for the company as possible."

        This is an often stated thing, but it isn't really true. The job of the CEO is to implement the will of the board of directors (who represent the shareholders). That will may be "profit at all costs", but it doesn't have to be -- and often isn't. For instance, many corporations forgo near-term profits in order to enhance long-term profits. And every corporation has a charter that lays out what the purpose of the corporation is. The purpose is usually profit, but not profit alone.

  6. Wellyboot Silver badge
    Big Brother

    They work for Amazon and complain about Palantir

    Bit of Pot - Kettle? or does giving you an easy way to spend your cash with them reduce the level of wrongness by Amazon?

    I do like the Tolkien reference in the name Palantir though, As used by the all seeing evil eye.

  7. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Pavlovian In-Betweener Message

    The missive is the latest in a string of statements from tech bosses and underlings that condemn the US government's policy of separating children from their asylum-seeking parents at the country's borders – which President Donald Trump was forced to back down on after images of kids apparently held in chain-link cages were made public.

    ****BEEEP**** NO CHILD SHALL EVER SMILE AGAIN UNTIL TRUMP IS GONE. ****BEEEP****

    And now back to our discussion about surveillance...

    Well now, the children are in detention and not behind chain-link fences. Okay.

    (Here is an idea though: why not put them on the next train south?)

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Pavlovian In-Betweener Message

      That whole in-article snide comment about "Trump backing down" is a complete *FARCE* - Trump had instructed law enforcement to FOLLOW THE LETTER OF THE LAW which was signed by Bill Clinton and also enforced by Obaka, and insisted upon by the 9th Circus Appeals "court", the most liberal left-leaning of them all. When pictures of children being allegedly "caged" (taken in 2014 as I recall, not 2018 - WHO was president then?) and the complete BAT-GUANO-INSANE "reaction" by "the media" caused Trump to do something absolutely *BRILLIANT*: he GAVE THEM WHAT THEY 'WANTED'.

      Now the kids aren't being separated. Wait for courts to catch up and try to put a stop to THAT, too, and the media going hysterical AGAIN only THIS time because the kids are IN JAIL with their PARENTS, who DESERVE to be there for BREAKING THE LAW. So what were we SUPPOSED to do, just LET THE PERPETRATORS GO FREE? I doubt that even happens in the UK.

      So anyway, stop PANDERING TO THE PERCEPTION about Trump, please. Get the facts RIGHT, and if you want to be snide and snarky about it, at least be snide and snarky with TRUTH and not fake-news-fiction. [then I'd probably laugh at it]

  8. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    FAO Amazon workers

    Where's my stuff?

  9. GIRZiM
    IT Angle

    She turned me into a newt!

    As this was an item about Amazon (principally Amazon U.S. too), I feel it severely remiss of those discussing Brexit not to have shoehorned in mention of Blockchain.

    If you're going to railroad the discussion and divert it to something utterly unrelated to the topic in hand for the purpose of venting your spleen to the distress of many and ultimate benefit of none, you could at least do it properly; it's annoying AF to find that I'm only exasperated at you rather then seething with rage - in fact, I might even be more annoyed by that than I am by the constant ineffectual frothing at the gob about Brexit itself, by armchair pundits who could have put the ball in the back of the net better themselves if only the ref weren't bent (and they could actually play football themselves rather than being lard-arsed slobs that is).

  10. Matt Bucknall
    Flame

    This ain't no union shop

    I predict a firing.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if IBM employess expressed concerns a few years back?

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/edwin-black/ibm-holocaust_b_1301691.html

  12. Gerry 3
    Big Brother

    You can have Amazon OR Privacy...

    Amazon and privacy don't seem to go together.

    I rapidly lost interest in buying a PC from them when I noticed that they register all of them on a police database, for my protection of course.

    Shades of North Korea... I'd rather take my chances, thank you very much.

  13. mark l 2 Silver badge

    The same Amazon workers seem to not be bothered about the tax avoidance Amazon has been doing for years on a massive scale, and the bad working conditions that a lot of Amazon employees had to deal with.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    According to IBM's latest TV show on AI...

    ...privacy is just an illusion. With security cameras virtually everywhere for legitimate purposes, there is little to no real privacy. With social media and most Internet and phone use all tracked to shove ads down people's throats there is little privacy.

    The legal and proper enforcement of U.S. immigration laws via computers is not an invasion of privacy or unreasonable, it's a necessity. The claims of human rights violations are for all practical purposes meritless as the folks being processed are illegal aliens. There is a concerted and effective effort to mislead the populace with half truths and politics but ICE is performing their job responsibilities the same as in the past.

    If Trump were not president we would hardly hear a peep about these illegals. Proper enforcement of existing U.S. immigration laws has been long overdue. There is a legitimate reason why all major countries have immigration laws.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: According to IBM's latest TV show on AI...

      "If Trump were not president we would hardly hear a peep about these illegals. Proper enforcement of existing U.S. immigration laws has been long overdue. There is a legitimate reason why all major countries have immigration laws."

      It's hard to disagree with that in principle. However, how the laws are enforced and the people are treated might be up for discussion. Going from one extreme to the other doesn't appear to be conducive to human rights (not that the US seem to care much about human rights, especially those of none citizens)

      1. elip

        Re: According to IBM's latest TV show on AI...

        Nothing has changed from Obama to Trump when it comes to border detention, keeping mothers away from kids in detention centers (jails), etc. Did everybody just sleep through Obama's presidency and "woke" when Trump took office? Obama *still* holds the record for most deportations by US president.

  15. Overflowing Stack

    Amazon peeps

    Pot calling kettle a muppet

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