Amazon shareholders reject facial recognition sales ban proposal

Ban would have forced company to stop selling the technology to governments

Amazon had said it recognised the concerns. Photograph: Getty

Amazon had said it recognised the concerns. Photograph: Getty

 

Amazon shareholders on Wednesday rejected a proposal to stop selling the company’s controversial facial recognition technology to governments.

The proposal, which was voted down at the tech giant’s annual meeting, had called for Amazon to stop selling Rekognition to governments until after a review of whether it posed a threat to certain civil and human rights.

A second proposal that called for the company to commission an independent report into the threats posed by the technology was also rejected.

Proxy advisory services ISS and Glass Lewis had both endorsed the measure to commission the study, but advised against the more extreme proposal to limit the sale of Rekognition.

Amazon had said it recognised the concerns but argued that “new technology should not be banned or condemned because of its potential misuse.” It said facial recognition was a “critical” tool for “business, government and law enforcement” and that users bore responsibility for adhering to strict usage rules.

Responsibility

However, ISS had pointed out that: “The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights make clear that the service provider has responsibility to ensure that its technology is not used in instances likely to cause overall harm or in a way that contravenes international law and human rights.”

All other shareholder proposals, including several relating to climate change, were voted down. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019