Amazon shareholders have voted proposals designed to curb the sale of the company's controversial face recognition tool and to limit carbon output.
The proposals, which were driven by shareholder activists and employees, were not binding, but represented a moment of opposition to Amazon. The company's Rekognition tool, which is sold to law enforcement officers, has been criticized for civil liberties and employees have said the company could do more to combat climate change.
Two Rekognition proposals allegedly asked Amazon to stop selling to government agencies and complete an evaluation of the implications of the civil liberties tool. Amazon went to the Securities Exchange Commission in an effort to prevent the proposals from coming to a vote, but the agency allowed them to continue. The measures were supported by groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which encourage shareholders to adopt the facial recognition proposals.
Amazon employees also gathered around the climate change proposal, which asked the company to approve a broad plan. Thousands of employees have signed an open letter to CEO Jeff Bezos who supports the plan. "It's time for the Jeff Bezos and Amazon board to listen," said Amazon organizers in a statement read out after the vote.
"Incremental steps are no longer acceptable in this time of climate distress," says @emahlee "Almost 7,700 Amazon employees understand that Amazon must have a comprehensive plan that fits the magnitude and urgency of the climate crisis." @Amazon #AGM #AMZNClimate
– Amazon employees for climate justice (@AMZNforClimate) May 22, 2019
An Amazon spokesperson confirmed that the proposals had been voted down and said more details would be submitted to the SEC and released later this week.
The shareholders' meeting came on the same day as a hearing on conferences on the use of face recognition technology. "It's just more important for Congress to act," said Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) at the hearing, in response to Amazon's voice.