Amazon shareholders said on Wednesday that they have rejected two proposals to stop selling the Amazon controversial facial recognition technology to Government customers. In the first proposal, Amazon was requested at their Annual meeting to restricts the sales of its facial rekognition technology to Government, law enforcement and federal agencies.
The second proposal called for the company to have demanded an independent human and civil rights review into the use of the technology. Proxy advisory services like ISS and Glass Lewis both supported the measures to commission the study but give votes against the more extreme proposal to limit the sale of rekognition.
Amazon said that they know the concerns but also argued that new technology should not be banned or stopped merely because of its disadvantages and potential misuse. The company said that facial recognition would prove a beneficial tool for business, government and law enforcement. And that users would be given with strict usage rules.
ISS said that: “The U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights make clear that the service provider has a 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.”
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has 12 percent of the company’s share along with the voting rights in his ex-wife remaining stakes. Amazon top four institutional shareholders, including The Vanguard Group, Blackrock, FMR and State Street. All of them hold equal voting rights as Bezos.
The resolution failed despite the attempts by the ACLU to back the measures, some of the civil liberties group accused Amazon of being so careless about the privacy concerns.
Shankar Narayan, ACLU of Washington, said: “The fact that there needed to be a vote on this is an embarrassment for Amazon’s leadership team. It demonstrates shareholders do not have confidence that company executives are properly understanding or addressing the civil and human rights impacts of its role in facilitating pervasive government surveillance.”
The ACLU said that investors and shareholders have the power to protect Amazon from its own failed judgments. Amazon refused to accept the claims made against its rekognition technology and called on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to ban shareholder proposal before to its annual shareholder meeting.