Amazon’s ‘astronomical’ misuse of customer data could ruin company

A shareholder is suing Jeff Bezos, Andy Jassy, and 17 other Amazon executives for intentionally allowing the business to violate state laws, in a novel strategy to draw attention to how Amazon utilizes individuals’ data.

Amazon has already been chastised for its usage of biometric data, such as fingerprints and face photos. It has been accused of collecting and utilizing people’s photos without their permission, as well as breaking state laws that restrict firms from profiting from people’s biometric data.

Typically, legal steps are taken against the firm. This time, shareholder Stephen Nelson is suing on behalf of the company against Amazon’s top executives.

Nelson claims that the defendants, which include executives such as founder and Executive Chairman Bezos, CEO Jassy, Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky, and General Counsel David Zapolsky, as well as all 11 members of the board of directors, knowingly allowed Amazon to make false statements about its use of biometric data. According to his attorneys, company executives “made a conscious choice to turn a blind eye to Amazon’s conduct.”

According to the lawsuit, Amazon executives and board members generated severe financial and reputational harm to Amazon.

Amazon did not respond to inquiries about the case.

Amazon, like many other tech firms, employs biometric data to provide customers with the capabilities they have come to expect. Its virtual assistant Alexa utilizes voice recognition to respond to customer inquiries about the weather. A new feature launched in September for the Echo Show 15 gadget allows Alexa to use visual signals to identify an individual when they walk into view of the camera and deliver a personalized to-do list, calendar, and music selection.

According to the lawsuit, Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing arm, stores some biometric data from its customers and their employees, such as fingerprints to get entry to a building, voiceprints to identify callers, and face scans from gamers.

As per a blog post on Amazon’s website, the company debuted its Rekognition facial recognition service in 2016 to allow clients to add “strong visual search and discovery” into their applications. It has now been deployed in Amazon’s smart home systems, Alexa, and other camera devices, and Amazon has marketed it to law enforcement and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Activists and shareholders are concerned that the facial recognition technology could “unfairly and disproportionately” target individuals of minority. At Amazon’s annual meeting on May 25, shareholders will vote on a resolution to require a report on how Rekognition is used and marketed, as well as the extent to which it may violate privacy and civil rights.