Briefing

Amazon Web Services will continue to work with government agencies

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Andy Jassy, CEO of AWS, said the company will sell its cloud technology to “any government department that’s following the law.” Amazon’s Rekognition face- and image-ID tool has been used by police in Oregon and Florida. (Reuters)

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Talking point: Tech giants have faced protests from employees over their work with government, particularly with security agencies. Amazon is a finalist for a US$10-million defence department cloud contract; in October 2018, staff at Microsoft—the other finalist—and Google tried to make their firms drop out of the bidding. Amazon workers have been particularly upset over facial recognition—also in October, 450 employees sent a letter to CEO Jeff Bezos asking him to stop selling Rekognition to police departments. It has not. Makers of facial-recognition technology may soon have a massive new contract to bid on. Jassy made his remarks in response to a question about working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which deports people. Homeland Security, ICE’s parent department, plans to use the technology to screen 97 per cent of airport travellers within the next four years. Meanwhile, on Monday, the department disclosed that a subcontractor had been hacked, revealing tens of thousands of photos of travellers entering and exiting the U.S. and their car license plates.