Amazon Employees Want Jeff Bezos to Stop Selling Rekognition to Law Enforcement, According to Report

Amazon employees are asking CEO Jeff Bezos to stop selling Rekognition facial recognition technology to law enforcement, and to kick the data mining company Palantir from Amazon Web Services, according from a report from Gizmodo.

In the letter circulating the company, which was obtained by Gizmodo, employees wrote that they are “troubled by the recent report from the ACLU exposing our company’s practice of selling AWS Rekognition, a powerful facial recognition technology, to police departments and government agencies.”

Rekognition was released in 2016, and according to an Amazon blog post from that year, Rekognition can scan and recognize images including people, pets, scenes and objects.

“You can use Rekognition in several different authentication and security contexts,” the blog post explains. “You can compare a face on a webcam to a badge photo before allowing an employee to enter a secure zone. You can perform visual surveillance, inspecting photos for objects or people of interest or concern.”

In a May letter to Bezos, the American Civil Liberties Union along with more than three-dozen other organizations demanded that Amazon stop selling Rekognition services to law enforcement agencies. The ACLU also released documents and a report criticizing Amazon’s marketing to law enforcement, and Rekognition’s use at a police department in Orlando, Florida and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon.

The letter from Amazon employees to Bezos also cites President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy at the U.S. border as a cause for consternation.

“In the face of this immoral U.S. policy, and the U.S.’s increasingly inhumane treatment of refugees and immigrants beyond this specific policy, we are deeply concerned that Amazon is implicated, providing infrastructure and services that enable ICE and DHS,” the letter reportedly states.

Amazon employees also called for the company to not provide services to companies — like Palantir — that partner with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Fortune contacted Palantir for comment.

Employees are not alone in voicing their unease. Earlier this week, 19 Amazon shareholders wrote a letter (which was posted publicly by the ACLU) to Bezos about Rekognition. It reads in part:

“In addition to our concerns for U.S. consumers who may be put in harm’s way with law enforcement’s use of Rekognition, we are also concerned sales may be expanded to foreign governments, including authoritarian regimes. Without protective policies in place, it seems inevitable the application of these technologies will result in Amazon’s Rekognition being used to identify and detain democracy advocates.”

When reached for a comment, Amazon pointed Fortune to a blog post written by Dr. Matt Wood, general manager of artificial intelligence at AWS, following the release of the ACLU report:

“Each organization choosing to employ technology must act responsibly or risk legal penalties and public condemnation.” Wood wrote. “AWS takes its responsibilities seriously. But we believe it is the wrong approach to impose a ban on promising new technologies because they might be used by bad actors for nefarious purposes in the future. “

The Amazon employees’ letter is the latest in a trend of employees at large tech companies sharing ethical concerns about the use of products. Employees at both Google and Microsoft have recently objected to contracts with the Department of Defense and ICE, respectively. Google said it would not renew its contract with the DoD. Microsoft discussed its contract with ICE in an email to employees.

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How to Quit the Toxic Behavior of Procrastinating

As an entrepreneur, there are certain times in your life that you will never forget: your first sale, your first customer review, and sometimes even the day you landed the client of your dreams.

They’re just like those small moments you constantly remember from your childhood. I vividly recall a time when my mother stormed into my room at night to remind me for the last time to walk the dog, and stop procrastinating. I thought to myself, “Procrastinating, what’s that?”

Little did I know that the word would stick with me for the rest of my life. It’s something plenty of others complain about, and I’m owning up to it.

You see, my brain works like this: A task is due on Tuesday at 2 p.m., and that’s the time that gets ingrained into my psyche. That’s when it’s actually necessary to get it done and send it over.

I have no filter to say, “Hey, maybe I should get that done early so I don’t have to worry about it later.” It just goes straight into the procrastination folder.

That’s how I’ve always been, so I’ve figured out how to work it to my best abilities. For others, it stresses them out beyond belief. It causes them sleepless nights, heart palpitations, and even cold sweats. (OK, maybe it doesn’t wreak that much havoc.)

There’s probably be a better way to do things. I’m the first person to admit that I’m generally overwhelmed with work and stress, and if something is doing me more harm than good, I need to make some changes.

I’ve started using these three strategies to beat my procrastination, and become more productive both in my personal and professional life:

If you haven’t read David Allen’s bestselling book Getting Things Done, here’s your official notice. He discusses something called the Two-Minute Rule. It seems easy, but most people let it slip by.

It’s surprising how many things we put off that we could get done in two minutes or less. For example, washing your dishes immediately after your meal, tossing the laundry in the washing machine, taking out the garbage, cleaning up clutter, sending that email, and so on. The goal is to accomplish small tasks in the moment, because if they take less than two minutes to do then you can avoid ever adding them to your to-do list.

I have a business flight coming up, and the company booking it asked for my frequent flyer number. Instead of looking for it while I was speaking to them, I said I’d follow up on it.

It would have taken less than a minute. Now, it’s something that has to rattle around in the back of my head until I either take the time to do it or forget about it completely and miss out on those extra miles.

Don’t do this. We all have enough truly important tasks to worry about to let something small cause undue stress.

You know what’s better than writing out your to-do list for the day? Crossing things off of it.

Celebrate your successes throughout the day, from small things like getting a good business review to big things like landing your dream client. I like to keep a journal and write out important things to remember, and separate out my most important tasks for the day.

When you don’t get every single thing crossed off for the day, don’t beat yourself up. Find a way to fit it into your schedule for the next day and remember to make it a priority.

3. Keeping Yourself Accountable

Nothing keeps me in line more than the expectations of my friends, team members, and family. Have you ever noticed how quickly you clean your home when someone is coming over? It’s just like that.

If you want to stop procrastinating, inject someone into the situation who will ensure you get it done. If you’re looking for an extra boost at work partner up with someone who will keep you on your toes, and that you work well with. Together, you can accomplish more than when you’re flying solo.

Being a procrastinator isn’t the worst thing in the world. At least, I hope not. But when it leads to additional stress and disappointment in your life, it sure can feel like it.

By making a few small changes throughout your day, you can improve both your self-confidence and your productivity.

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YouTube pushes memberships, merchandise as alternatives to ads

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – YouTube said on Thursday that video uploaders with more than 100,000 followers could start paid fan clubs on the service, one of several new features aimed at helping itself and its users diversify revenue after a turbulent year.

FILE PHOTO: The YouTube app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration taken September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The unit of Alphabet Inc’s Google said it was investing in reducing reliance on advertisers, who deliver billions of dollars in revenue annually but increasingly do not want to be associated with some content, such as racy music videos and roguish stunts.

Some video makers saw earnings fall last year when YouTube placated advertisers by restricting where commercials appear. New tools such as memberships and expanded merchandise sales should give video producers more control over their businesses, said Rohit Dhawan, senior director of product management at YouTube.

Dhawan declined to quantify the investment into what YouTube calls “alternative monetization.” But he said that YouTube is keeping $1.50 each month out of every $5 membership to justify resources involved.

Alternative monetization is a major topic for YouTube staff as they interact with video creators this week at VidCon, an industry convention in Anaheim, Calif. Facebook also expanded revenue options for videomakers this week.

YouTube’s goal is to develop a suite of software for creators to manage fan relationships and envisioned tools, such as a way to send personalized “happy birthday” videos to members, requires large teams, Dhawan said.

“The number of engineers we have working on this is not because we think there’s something there,” he said. “We know there’s something here.”

Amy Shira Teitel, who posts science videos on YouTube, said she has gained 103 subscribers since starting to test memberships in September.

The extra $300 a month has let her expand research, including visiting archives in Washington, D.C. In exchange, she holds members-only conversations online about her forthcoming book.

Viewers “know I’m spread pretty thin, and they know if they help me make my work possible, it won’t go away,” Teitel said.

Videomakers choose the name of their membership club and the perks offered, all subject to approval by YouTube staff. Members can report creators that fail to deliver on benefits, such as T-shirts or shout-outs.

YouTube also said creators can customize merchandise on design service Teespring and sell it in a new section underneath their videos. Teespring is lowering fees as part of the deal, to provide creators an extra $1 in profit per item through 2019 and to pay YouTube a small commission, Dhawan said.

Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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