Amazon employees hope to confront Jeff Bezos about law enforcement deals at an all-staff meeting
The ‘We Won’t Build It” group sent a letter to the CEO this summer decrying the company’s relationships with police.
Amazon employees angered about the company’s commercial ties to law enforcement agencies are hoping to ramp up pressure on management at the company’s all-staff meeting on Thursday.
A group of company workers who signed
For years, Amazon allowed employees to ask questions in person at these semi-annual gatherings, but the company has instituted a new policy that requires all questions to be submitted in advance of Thursday’s meeting. A spokesperson said the change was designed to give every employee worldwide a chance to ask questions — not just those who can attend in Seattle. This is the first Amazon all-staff meeting that will be livestreamed globally.
“We know that the questions are now pre-screened, but we think that if enough people submit questions, there is a greater chance we can hold leadership accountable,” an Amazon employee wrote to colleagues in an email that was viewed by Recode. “Write your own personal message, or copy/paste this one if you don’t have time: ‘Why is Amazon continuing to support ICE’s regime of deportation, and even offering to sell them facial recognition software?’”
An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment.
In the past year, Amazon has
In June, hundreds of Amazon employees signed a letter — titled “
The group also decried the company’s commercial relationship with the data firm Palantir, which does business with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This summer, Amazon also reportedly pitched its Rekognition technology directly to the ICE, a few months after the federal immigration agency started enforcing President Trump’s controversial zero-tolerance family-separation border policy, according to
The ACLU previously raised concerns about Rekognition’s potential misuse for racial profiling after the organization ran a test and found that the software
The employee-led movement to limit Amazon’s business with police and the ICE is part of a broader “We Won’t Build It” movement by tech workers who are demanding to stop what they feel are morally questionable uses of their companies’ software. Employees at Microsoft, Salesforce and Google have taken similarly vocal positions in the past year.
“Tech workers make a lot of money and have a lot of power in the job market, but scratch that surface and underneath there’s a huge amount of fear,” one Amazon employee wrote to Recode on Monday. “The fact that over 400 people have signed the letter at Amazon, that Microsoft and Salesforce employees have taken action as well, and even
Neither Bezos nor Amazon company executives have given a formal response to the employees who make up the “We Won’t Build It” group. But Bezos defended his company’s defense contracts with the U.S. government at a recent tech conference, while acknowledging the potential for misuse with any technology.
“If big tech companies are going to turn their back on the U.S. Department of Defense, this country is going to be in trouble,” said Bezos, speaking at a