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On Monday, a group of Amazon employees sent out an internal email to the We Won’t Build it mailing list, calling on Amazon to stop working with Palantir. Palantir is a data analytics company, founded by Peter Thiel, one of President Trump’s most vocal supporters in Silicon Valley, has a strong association with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Last year in June, an alliance of more than 500 Amazon employees had signed a petition addressing to CEO Jeff Bezos and AWS head Andy Jassy to abandon its contracts with government agencies. It seems that those protests are ramping up again.

The email sent to employee mailing lists within Amazon Web Services demanded that Palantir to be removed from Amazon’s cloud for violating its terms of service. It also called on Amazon to take a stand against ICE by making a statement establishing its position against immigration raids, deportations and camps for migrants at the border. They have also demanded to stop selling its facial recognition tech to the government agencies.

In May, Amazon shareholders had rejected the proposal to ban the sale of its facial recognition tech to government. With this they had also rejected eleven other proposals made by employees including a climate resolution, salary transparency and other issues.

“The world is watching the abuses in ICE’s concentration camps unfold. We know that our company should, and can do better,” the email read.

The protests broke out at Amazon’s AWS Summit, held in New York, last week on Thursday. As Amazon CTO Werner Vogels gave a presentation, a group led by a man identified in a tweet as a tech worker interrupted to protest Amazon ties with ICE.

Vogels was caught off guard by the protests but continued on about the specifics of AWS, according to ZDNet.

“I’m more than willing to have a conversation, but maybe they should let me finish first,” Vogels said amidst protesters, whose audio was cut off on Amazon’s official livestream of the event, per ZDNet. “We’ll all get our voices heard,” he said before returning to his planned speech.

According to Business Insider reports, Palantir has a $51 million contract with ICE, which entails providing software to gather data on undocumented immigrant’s employment information, phone records, immigration history and similar information. Its software is hosted in the AWS cloud.

The email states that Palantir enables ICE to violate the rights of others and working with such a company is harmful to Amazon’s reputation.

The employees also state that their protest is in the spirit of similar actions at companies including Wayfair, Microsoft and Salesforce where workers have protested against their employers to cut ties with ICE and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Amazon has been facing increasing pressure from its employees. Last week workers had protested on Amazon Prime day demanding a safe working conditions and fair wages.

Amazon, which typically takes a cursory view of such employee outcry, has so far given no indication that it will reconsider providing services to Palantir and other law enforcement agencies. Instead the company argued that the government should determine what constitutes “acceptable use” of technology of the type it sells.

“As we’ve said many times and continue to believe strongly, companies and government organizations need to use existing and new technology responsibly and lawfully,” Amazon said to BuzzFeed News.

“There is clearly a need for more clarity from governments on what is acceptable use of AI and ramifications for its misuse, and we’ve provided a proposed legislative framework for this. We remain eager for the government to provide this additional clarity and legislation, and will continue to offer our ideas and specific suggestions.”

Other tech worker groups like Google Walkout For Real Change, Ban Google for Pride stand in solidarity with Amazon workers on this protest.

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Amazon shareholders reject proposals to ban sale of facial recognition tech to govt and to conduct independent review of its human and civil rights impact

Being a Senior Content Marketing Editor at Packt Publishing, I handle vast array of content in the tech space ranging from Data science, Web development, Programming, Cloud & Networking, IoT, Security and Game development. With prior experience and understanding of Marketing I aspire to grow leaps and bounds in the Content & Digital Marketing field. On the personal front I am an ambivert and love to read inspiring articles and books on life and in general.