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Westlake Legal Group > fox-news/tech/companies/amazon

Activists demand facial recognition ban for law enforcement in major new push

A coalition of activist groups representing more than 15 million combined members is pushing for a federal ban on law enforcement’s use of facial recognition technology.

The groups, which are planning to blanket lawmakers with emails and phone calls, are coming together under BanFacialRecognition, which was organized by the digital rights group Fight for the Future as a way to show the public exactly where and how the controversial surveillance technology is being used nationwide.

“Facial recognition is one of the most authoritarian and invasive forms of surveillance ever created, and it’s spreading like an epidemic. … We need to ban this technology outright, treat it like biological or nuclear weapons, and prevent it from proliferating before it’s too late,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of the group, in a statement provided to Fox News.

The technology has been banned by three cities — Oakland and San Francisco in California, and Somerville, Mass. — and at least one 2020 presidential candidate, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, has called for a ban on its use by law enforcement.

EX-GOOGLE EMPLOYEE ALLEGING PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION MOVES FORWARD WITH CLAIM

Westlake Legal Group facial-recognition-fight-for-the-future Activists demand facial recognition ban for law enforcement in major new push fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/facebook fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox-news/person/jeff-bezos fox news fnc/tech fnc Christopher Carbone article 5e073385-dff2-5bac-a18c-a829c0d8753e

Fight for the Future, along with more than two dozen other organizations, is calling for a total ban on facial recognition technology at the federal level. (Fight for the Future)

FORTNITE STAR USES RACIAL SLUR, BUT TWITCH ISN’T COMMENTING ON RULE VIOLATION

Two tests of Amazon’s facial recognition software, which the tech giant claims can now detect “fear,” falsely labeled California state lawmakers and members of Congress as criminal suspects.

Most of the false positives were people of color in both tests.

The Jeff Bezos-led company has said that it encourages law enforcement agencies to use 99 percent confidence ratings for public safety applications of the technology. Amazon’s Ring security service, which deploys facial recognition technology, is reportedly working with more than 200 police departments.

“When using facial recognition to identify persons of interest in an investigation, law enforcement should use the recommended 99 percent confidence threshold, and only use those predictions as one element of the investigation” and not the sole determinant, the company said in a blog post earlier this year.

The grassroots coalition, which includes Consumer Action, Restore the Fourth, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Color of Change, United We Dream and Media Justice, is united in the belief that regulating the technology isn’t enough.

AMAZON’S RING GAVE POLICE STATISTICS ABOUT USERS WHO REFUSED LAW ENFORCEMENT REQUESTS

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“We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. There is nothing democratic about facial recognition technology — no one is truly free when our faces can be monitored and captured as we go about our daily business,” said Linda Sherry, director of national priorities for Consumer Action, in a statement to Fox News. “Facial recognition technology is notoriously inaccurate and biased. Deploying it on an unsuspecting public in the name of ‘crime-fighting’ is a crime in itself.”

Fox News reached out to Amazon for comment on this story.

Westlake Legal Group facial-recognition-fight-for-the-future Activists demand facial recognition ban for law enforcement in major new push fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/facebook fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox-news/person/jeff-bezos fox news fnc/tech fnc Christopher Carbone article 5e073385-dff2-5bac-a18c-a829c0d8753e   Westlake Legal Group facial-recognition-fight-for-the-future Activists demand facial recognition ban for law enforcement in major new push fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/facebook fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox-news/person/jeff-bezos fox news fnc/tech fnc Christopher Carbone article 5e073385-dff2-5bac-a18c-a829c0d8753e

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Amazon tests Whole Foods payment system that uses hands as ID

Forget the titanium Apple Card — Amazon’s latest payment method uses flesh and blood.

The e-tailing giant’s engineers are quietly testing scanners that can identify an individual human hand as a way to ring up a store purchase, with the goal of rolling them out at its Whole Foods supermarket chain in the coming months, The Post has learned.

Employees at Amazon’s New York offices are serving as guinea pigs for the biometric technology, using it at a handful of vending machines to buy such items as sodas, chips, granola bars and phone chargers, according to sources briefed on the plans.

The high-tech sensors are different from fingerprint scanners found on devices like the iPhone and don’t require users to physically touch their hands to the scanning surface.

Instead, they use computer vision and depth geometry to process and identify the shape and size of each hand they scan before charging a credit card on file.

The system, code-named “Orville,” will allow customers with Amazon Prime accounts to scan their hands at the store and link them to their credit or debit card.

It’s accurate to within one ten-thousandth of 1%, but Amazon engineers are scrambling to improve it to a millionth of 1% ahead of its launch, the source said.

Amazon hopes to introduce the tech to a handful of its Whole Foods stores by the beginning of next year and to eventually expand the super-fast checkout tech to all US locations. The pace of the rollout will depend on how quickly Whole Foods is able to install it and train employees on how to use it, sources said.

“We don’t comment on rumors or speculation,” an Amazon spokesperson said.

While a regular card transaction typically takes between three and four seconds, Amazon’s new technology can process the charge in less than 300 milliseconds, a person familiar with the project said.

“Retailers have always been interested in faster checkout,” Majd Maksad, founder and CEO of Status Money, a personal finance site, told The Post. “You only have to walk into Whole Foods to see the massive lines of people waiting to check out. It’s a massive friction point.”

If successful, the technology also could help encourage consumers to spend more when they visit Whole Foods, he said.

“People tend to spend more when they don’t have the experience of touching something tangible like money,” Maksad said. “The utility of money becomes more ephemeral.”

At Amazon’s budding chain of “Go” convenience stores that launched last year, customers use a phone app to check in at a turnstile. They can then fill their bags and carry them out without ever passing a register thanks to computer vision and an array of sensors all over the store.

With the new, hand-based tech, shoppers won’t even have to bring their phones. Nevertheless, experts say it’s unclear whether customers will be enthusiastic about scanning their hands at Whole Foods.

Stephanie Hare, an independent researcher who specializes in technology ethics, noted that countries with robust surveillance programs like China already use biometric checkouts in some stores and noted that Amazon appears to have made a decision to not use facial recognition.

“I think they probably made a judgment call that Americans are probably not going to want to pay with their face, but they’ll be fine to pay with their fingerprint or their hand,” she said. “That feels less like a mug shot.”

Consumers should avoid giving up their biometric data, Hare says, pointing out that, if a company gets hacked, it can take six or more years for consumers to unwind the data theft.

“Why would you give them that data? People don’t understand the risk, and they’re oversold the benefits,” she said. “We have a couple of nation states that are really good at stealing data right now.”

This story originally appeared in the New York Post.

Westlake Legal Group WholeFoodsIstockl Amazon tests Whole Foods payment system that uses hands as ID Nicolas Vega New York Post fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fnc/tech fnc article 3ac63546-eee3-591f-81f4-b635d4e2c461   Westlake Legal Group WholeFoodsIstockl Amazon tests Whole Foods payment system that uses hands as ID Nicolas Vega New York Post fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fnc/tech fnc article 3ac63546-eee3-591f-81f4-b635d4e2c461

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Doorbell-cam company Ring partners with 405 police agencies across US to share footage, fight crime

Westlake Legal Group 485467-ring-video-doorbell-2 Doorbell-cam company Ring partners with 405 police agencies across US to share footage, fight crime Melissa Leon fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/tech/topics/privacy fox-news/tech/technologies/video fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox news fnc/tech fnc c0909ecd-3858-5e58-be25-e7bf78a871a9 article

Amazon’s doorbell-camera company, Ring, has partnered with more than 400 law enforcement agencies to give them access to video footage from outside homes, a new initiative that’s raised warning flags with some privacy advocates.

Some 405 police agencies have been using Neighbors Portal, an extension of the company’s Neighbors app, Ring founder and CEO Jamie Siminoff said in a blog post.

The video-sharing partnerships allow police to request footage during specific time frames and in certain areas, though authorities can’t see live streams of residents’ front doors, and homeowners have the right to nix requests for footage.

AMAZON’S POLICE PARTNERSHIP FUELS PRIVACY CONCERNS

The company’s new Active Law Enforcement Map lets users see which local agencies are participating in Neighbors, Ring said, and the map will be updated.

The Neighbors Portal lets local police engage with their community, Siminoff said, “from posting important information about crime and safety events in their neighborhoods to viewing and commenting on public posts as a verified law enforcement officer, to asking for help on active investigations by submitting requests for video recordings.”

The Neighbors app has already gotten stolen guns off the streets and recovered a diabetic child’s pilfered medical supplies, Siminoff said.

“Every member of a community plays a vital role in making neighborhoods safer, and we’re proud that our users can decide how exactly they want to contribute to those conversations,” he said.

“We’ve also been thoughtful about designing how law enforcement engages with the Neighbors app to ensure users always stay in control of the information they share, and that their privacy is protected.”

AMAZON TACTIC NUDGES SHOPPERS TO PRIVATE-LABEL BRANDS JUST BEFORE THEY CLICK ‘BUY’

Ring launched Neighbors in May 2018. It said this past February that its app has helped reduce crime. Ring also pointed out that users had “full control” over who views their video footage, and that “only the content that a user chooses to make publicly available on Neighbors (by posting it to the app) can be viewed via the Neighbors app or by local law enforcement.”

“Ring does not view or share a user’s videos that are not posted to the app without the user’s express permission or a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us,” the company said.

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Even so, Ring’s announcement on Wednesday caused many critics to sound the alarm over privacy issues.

“By sending photos and alerts every time the camera detects motion or someone rings the doorbell, the app can create an illusion of a household under siege,” Matthew Guariglia of the Electronic Frontier Foundation told USA Today. (The nonprofit digital rights group says it defends digital privacy and free speech.)

“It turns what seems like a perfectly safe neighborhood into a source of anxiety and fear,” Guariglia said. “This raises the question: Do you really need Ring, or have Amazon and the police misled you into thinking that you do?”

Others took to Twitter to express their disapproval of the law enforcement partnership.

“One more reason to not use [Ring],” said SpaceSimGuy. “Big brother just keeps getting bigger.”

The public response led Ring to clarify how the system works.

“Recent coverage of the Neighbors program is misleading,” the company tweeted in response to the criticisms. “We want to set the record straight — you are in control of your videos. They are only shared if you post them or provide consent. Police go through Ring when making a request, and you can decline.”

Westlake Legal Group 485467-ring-video-doorbell-2 Doorbell-cam company Ring partners with 405 police agencies across US to share footage, fight crime Melissa Leon fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/tech/topics/privacy fox-news/tech/technologies/video fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox news fnc/tech fnc c0909ecd-3858-5e58-be25-e7bf78a871a9 article   Westlake Legal Group 485467-ring-video-doorbell-2 Doorbell-cam company Ring partners with 405 police agencies across US to share footage, fight crime Melissa Leon fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/tech/topics/privacy fox-news/tech/technologies/video fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox news fnc/tech fnc c0909ecd-3858-5e58-be25-e7bf78a871a9 article

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Amazon tactic nudges shoppers to private-label brands just before they click ‘Buy’

Amazon has introduced a new feature that markets its private-label brands right before consumers add rival products to their shopping carts.

The Washington Post conducted dozens of product searches and saw offers for a “similar item to consider” featuring an Amazon brand appearing just above the area where shoppers click to add a purchase to their cart.

The boxes reportedly touted lower-priced Amazon versions of everyday items like Glad trash bags, Dr. Scholl’s gel insoles and Energizer batteries.

The retail behemoth, of course, has a huge amount of power over what’s sold on its platform thanks to its data-mining capabilities. That dominance is drawing scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers in America — including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who wants to break up Amazon on antitrust grounds.

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Westlake Legal Group amazon-sign-RT Amazon tactic nudges shoppers to private-label brands just before they click 'Buy' fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox news fnc/tech fnc Christopher Carbone article 3e5d34c3-270e-578e-8943-85e23fafc8f1

Amazon is under fire for its promotion of private-label products. (Reuters)

According to reseach firm eMarketer, Amazon is expected to account for more than 37 percent of all e-commerce sales in the U.S. this year.

“It’s an ad at exactly the moment the customer is ready to buy,” James Thomson, a former senior manager in business development at Amazon and now a partner at brand consultancy Buy Box Experts, told The Washington Post. “I don’t see how that’s not unfair.”

Amazon defended itself in a statement to The Post, likening the promotion to the way any store would push its own private-label goods.

AMAZON SLAMMED OVER PRODUCT SAFETY ISSUES

“Like any retailer we promote our own brands in our stores, which provide high-quality products and great value to customers,” Amazon spokeswoman Nell Rona told The Post. “We also extensively promote products from our selling partners.”

The Post found examples of AmazonBasics being shown to shoppers searching for diapers, coffee pods, beauty products, vitamin supplements, nicotine gum and more.

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Westlake Legal Group rtsk3fr Amazon tactic nudges shoppers to private-label brands just before they click 'Buy' fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox news fnc/tech fnc Christopher Carbone article 3e5d34c3-270e-578e-8943-85e23fafc8f1   Westlake Legal Group rtsk3fr Amazon tactic nudges shoppers to private-label brands just before they click 'Buy' fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox news fnc/tech fnc Christopher Carbone article 3e5d34c3-270e-578e-8943-85e23fafc8f1

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Amazon slammed over product safety issues

Amazon could be committing “widespread deception” by selling thousands of products without any warnings despite certain goods having been deemed unsafe, according to a top consumer protection regulator.

“This article raises real concerns about whether Amazon is profiting from widespread deception on its platform,” Federal Trade Commissioner (FTC) Rohit Chopra tweeted, referring to a Wall Street journal piece. “Deceptive acts or practices can threaten our health and safety and are unlawful under the FTC Act.”

Chopra’s comments came after a Journal investigation found 4,152 unsafe items listed for sale on Amazon. After The Journal made the Seattle tech giant aware of the safety issues, Amazon removed many of the items.

GOOGLE CRACKS DOWN ON POLITICAL SPEECH AMONG ITS WORKFORCE

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., called for “swift action” following the report.

“Amazon’s failure to remove illegal, deadly and deceptive products from their site threatens consumer safety,” Blumenthal tweeted. “They must prioritize safety over profit.”

Amazon responded to The Journal’s story in a blog post explaining how the tech giant, which is led by Jeff Bezos, checks the enormous number of products on its platform.

“We invest significant resources to protect our customers and have built robust programs designed to ensure products offered for sale in our store are safe and compliant,” the company wrote in its post.

AMAZON’S RING BARRED POLICE FROM USING SURVEILLANCE TO DESCRIBE ITS PRODUCTS

Westlake Legal Group amazon-sign-RT Amazon slammed over product safety issues fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox news fnc/tech fnc d59b8083-2e5c-53fb-b785-abfb8985d361 Christopher Carbone article

Amazon is under fire after a new investigation into product safety. (Reuters)

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Nonetheless, some experts say Amazon helped to create the problem it’s now facing, by making it relatively easy for sellers to market goods on its site.

“In many ways, Amazon has built themselves into a corner,” Juozas Kaziukenas, chief executive of Marketplace Plus, a business intelligence firm focused on e-commerce, told The Washington Post. “The building blocks of Amazon prevents them from fixing it.”

Still, the company pushed back on the notion that it is sacrificing safety for consumer convenience.

Amazon has long aimed to provide the widest selection of goods at the lowest prices with rapid delivery, “but not at the expense of our customers’ safety, and this insinuation is simply wrong,” spokesperson Cecilia Fan told The Post.

Fox News reached out to Amazon for comment.

Westlake Legal Group amazon-sign-RT Amazon slammed over product safety issues fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox news fnc/tech fnc d59b8083-2e5c-53fb-b785-abfb8985d361 Christopher Carbone article   Westlake Legal Group amazon-sign-RT Amazon slammed over product safety issues fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox news fnc/tech fnc d59b8083-2e5c-53fb-b785-abfb8985d361 Christopher Carbone article

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Warren won’t support Sanders’ Washington Post-Amazon bias claims

Sen. Elizabeth Warren won’t support Sen. Bernie Sanders’ recent claim that The Washington Post is biased against him because of his criticism of Amazon.

The Vermont senator, who shares Warren’s progressive values, told a New Hampshire town hall audience on Monday that because Jeff Bezos owns the Post, and Sanders has slammed Amazon over wages, working conditions and not paying taxes, the publication has some sort of vendetta against him.

“And then I wonder why The Washington Post — which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon — doesn’t write particularly good articles about me,” Sanders said. “I don’t know why. But I guess maybe there’s a connection. Maybe we helped raise the minimum wage at Amazon to 15 bucks an hour as well.”

AMAZON’S FACIAL RECOGNITION CAN NOW DETECT ‘FEAR’ AS ACTIVISTS BLAST USE BY POLICE

Westlake Legal Group getty-warren-sanders Warren won't support Sanders’ Washington Post-Amazon bias claims fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox-news/person/jeff-bezos fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox news fnc/tech fnc Christopher Carbone c61dc579-3ee8-515a-9717-464c1c872445 article

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) greet each other at the start of the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre in Detroit on July 30, 2019. (Getty Images)

Politico asked Warren’s campaign about Sanders’ charges that Bezos meddles in the Post’s political coverage.

“It’s no secret that Elizabeth believes Amazon needs to be broken up, it should pay her Real Corporate Profits tax, and Jeff Bezos needs to pay a wealth tax,” communications director Kristen Orthman told Politico’s Morning Tech newsletter. “But she appreciates that The Washington Post’s coverage is independent.”

Warren’s lack of support for Sanders’ claim comes at a time when several polls show her rising above her Senate colleague in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

For its part, the Post strongly denied any interference from Bezos in its editorial choices.

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Westlake Legal Group Washington-Post-sanders Warren won't support Sanders’ Washington Post-Amazon bias claims fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox-news/person/jeff-bezos fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox news fnc/tech fnc Christopher Carbone c61dc579-3ee8-515a-9717-464c1c872445 article

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“Sen. Sanders is a member of a large club of politicians — of every ideology — who complain about their coverage,” Martin Baron, the Post’s executive editor, said. “Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor, Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest.”

The Independent Vermont senator was echoing criticisms voiced by President Trump, who has labeled the newspaper as the “Amazon Washington Post” and attacked it for a range of different reasons.

Westlake Legal Group getty-warren-sanders Warren won't support Sanders’ Washington Post-Amazon bias claims fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox-news/person/jeff-bezos fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox news fnc/tech fnc Christopher Carbone c61dc579-3ee8-515a-9717-464c1c872445 article   Westlake Legal Group getty-warren-sanders Warren won't support Sanders’ Washington Post-Amazon bias claims fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox-news/person/jeff-bezos fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox news fnc/tech fnc Christopher Carbone c61dc579-3ee8-515a-9717-464c1c872445 article

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Amazon driver successfully delivers package by throwing it through second-floor window, customer says

Westlake Legal Group 478547-generic-amazon-box Amazon driver successfully delivers package by throwing it through second-floor window, customer says Nicole Darrah fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox-news/odd-news fox news fnc/tech fnc article 9ce1df96-4b96-5c85-a6a5-aff8251b2055

An English woman claims her Amazon package was delivered successfully — by being thrown into her second-floor window.

Claudine McLaren, a 43-year-old who lives in Leicestershire, said she came home Monday to find a delivery note from an Amazon driver letting her know where her package full of lightbulbs was.

AMAZON DELIVERY TOBOT SCOUT HITS THE STREETS IN CALIFORNIA

“Put through open window,” the note, published by the BBC, read. McLaren said she found the package, undamaged, upstairs.

“We thought it was hilarious, he must have been confident,” she told the news outlet. “The window is 10 foot up and there’s no evidence he’s used a ladder.”

McLaren commended the delivery employee for the effort, but said she might have “felt differently had the bulbs been broken.”

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A spokesperson for Amazon told Fox News in a statement: “We have very high standards for our delivery partners and expect every package to be handled with care.”

McLaren said she was looking for anyone who might’ve witnessed the event. “It’s quite a public place, someone must have seen him do it. I’d love to find out,” she said.

Westlake Legal Group 478547-generic-amazon-box Amazon driver successfully delivers package by throwing it through second-floor window, customer says Nicole Darrah fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox-news/odd-news fox news fnc/tech fnc article 9ce1df96-4b96-5c85-a6a5-aff8251b2055   Westlake Legal Group 478547-generic-amazon-box Amazon driver successfully delivers package by throwing it through second-floor window, customer says Nicole Darrah fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox-news/odd-news fox news fnc/tech fnc article 9ce1df96-4b96-5c85-a6a5-aff8251b2055

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Amazon’s Choice under fire amid widespread fraud in recommendations

Two senators are demanding that Amazon explain how it comes up with its well-known “Amazon Choice” label, a mark of distinction that earns certain products preferred placement with the retail platform.

In a letter to CEO Jeff Bezos, Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut have asked the tech giant to explain how products get designated as Amazon’s Choice, voicing fears that consumers might be getting hoodwinked into buying products that are not worthwhile due to fake reviews.

“We are concerned the badge is assigned in an arbitrary manner, or worse, based on fraudulent product reviews. While we recognize that Amazon has taken actions in the past to combat fraudulent reviews, the problem persists, and Amazon may be exacerbating the problem by actively promoting products with fraudulent reviews,” the two senators, both Democrats, wrote.

SANDERS BLASTS BEZOS-OWNED WASHINGTON POST FOR BIAS IN ECHO OF TRUMP

Westlake Legal Group 478547-generic-amazon-box Amazon's Choice under fire amid widespread fraud in recommendations fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox news fnc/tech fnc Christopher Carbone article afa723bc-5659-56ce-a939-1571b7399872

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A number of recent reports have said that Amazon is flooded with thousands of fake reviews and the Federal Trade Commission has been looking into the matter as well.

The letter makes a range of demands, including that Amazon reveal exactly how products get recommended for the program, whether an algorithm is informing the company’s decisions about the program, and whether actual humans review the products to make sure they are worthy of the special label.

The Seattle-based company, which debuted the Amazon Choice label in 2015, has until Sept. 16 to respond to lawmakers’ questions. The description on the site says, “Amazon’s Choice recommends highly rated, well-priced products available to ship immediately.”

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As other news outlets have noted for years, it remains a mystery how a product earns the designation.

A spokesperson for Amazon gave Fox News the following statement via email on Tuesday:

“Amazon invests significant resources to protect the integrity of reviews in our store because we know customers value the insights and experiences shared by fellow shoppers. Even one inauthentic review is one too many. We have clear participation guidelines for both reviewers and selling partners and we suspend, ban and take legal action on those who violate our policies.
 

The company uses a combination of teams of investigators and automated technology to prevent and detect inauthentic reviews, and to take action against the bad actors behind the abuse; the company estimates that 90 percent of inauthentic reviews are computer generated.
 
The spokesperson continued: “We work hard to enrich the shopping experience for our customers and selling partners with authentic reviews written by real customers. Customers can help by reporting any requests they get to manipulate reviews to customer service.”

Westlake Legal Group 478547-generic-amazon-box Amazon's Choice under fire amid widespread fraud in recommendations fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox news fnc/tech fnc Christopher Carbone article afa723bc-5659-56ce-a939-1571b7399872   Westlake Legal Group 478547-generic-amazon-box Amazon's Choice under fire amid widespread fraud in recommendations fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox news fnc/tech fnc Christopher Carbone article afa723bc-5659-56ce-a939-1571b7399872

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Amazon drivers part of major theft ring, FBI says

A theft ring in Washington state sold millions of dollars’ worth of stolen goods on Amazon.com in the past six years, and a pair of contract Amazon delivery drivers was involved, recently unsealed federal court documents show.

According to a search warrant affidavit unsealed in U.S. District Court in Seattle and reviewed by The Associated Press, two storefront businesses posing as pawn shops bought the goods from shoplifters, then had the items shipped to Amazon warehouses, where they were stored until sold online.

Entities associated with the alleged ringleader did at least $10 million in sales on Amazon since 2013, FBI agent Ariana Kroshinsky wrote in her affidavit.

ATTORNEY GENERAL BARR TARGETS AMAZON, FACEBOOK IN BROAD ANTITRUST PROBE

No charges have yet been filed, though investigators have raided the pawn shops and the home of the man identified as the ringleader, Aleksandr Pavlovskiy, 44, of Auburn. A man who answered the door at one of the shops Wednesday identified himself as Alex and told The Associated Press his business was legitimate, that he kept good records and he should not be in any trouble.

Westlake Legal Group Amazon-Ring-3 Amazon drivers part of major theft ring, FBI says fox-news/us/us-regions/west/washington fox-news/us/crime fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox-news/health/orthopedics/technology fnc/tech fnc fff39165-5b8e-52ca-b672-d1a41232418e Associated Press article

In this Wednesday, July 31, 2019, photo a pawn shop alleged to have been a front for a theft ring stands closed in Renton, Wash. The FBI says the ring sold millions of dollars’ worth of stolen goods on Amazon.com in the past six years, and that a pair of Amazon delivery drivers was involved. No charges have yet been filed. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Among those who provided stolen items to the pawn shops were two contract Amazon drivers, Kroshinsky said. Their job was to travel to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, pick up items being returned to the company and then bring them to an Amazon warehouse south of Seattle, and to deliver items to post offices for shipping. Instead, they routinely stole the goods and sold them to the pawn shops, she wrote.

Amazon did not immediately return an email seeking comment about the case Thursday.

The investigation began last summer when a police detective in Auburn, a south Seattle suburb, was perusing a record of pawn shop sales and noticed that one man had made 57 transactions. It turned out to be one of the drivers.

AMAZON WAS NOT SCARED OFF BY AOC, NYC MAYOR SAYS

He had received nearly $30,000 selling items to the pawn shops between February and July last year, the affidavit said. Police initially arrested the driver, but released him from jail to avoid disrupting their larger investigation.

The other driver, identified as Abbas Zghair, was believed to be a roommate of the first. Amazon told investigators that Zghair stole about $100,000 worth of property, including gaming systems, sporting goods and computer products — items he sold to one of the pawn shops for less than $20,000, the agent wrote.

Westlake Legal Group Amazon-ring-2 Amazon drivers part of major theft ring, FBI says fox-news/us/us-regions/west/washington fox-news/us/crime fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox-news/health/orthopedics/technology fnc/tech fnc fff39165-5b8e-52ca-b672-d1a41232418e Associated Press article

In this Wednesday, July 31, 2019, photo a building that used to house office and storage space for a pawn shop alleged to have been a front for a theft ring stands empty in Kent, Wash.  (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

In an unrelated case, Zghair has been charged with murder after police said he shot and killed a man in an Auburn field in March, then fled to the Canadian border, where he was arrested trying to cross with a fake ID. He’s being held on $2.5 million bail.

Both drivers worked for Amazon contractor JW Logistics, based in Frisco, Texas. It was unclear how long Zghair had worked for the company, but in 2015, he was convicted of reckless driving in Lewis County after leading police on a chase in excess of 100 mph (161 kph), running red lights, driving across multiple lanes of travel and crashing into a field.

The company said a representative was not immediately available to comment after regular business hours Thursday.

Westlake Legal Group Amazon-ring-1 Amazon drivers part of major theft ring, FBI says fox-news/us/us-regions/west/washington fox-news/us/crime fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox-news/health/orthopedics/technology fnc/tech fnc fff39165-5b8e-52ca-b672-d1a41232418e Associated Press article

In this Wednesday, July 31, 2019, photo a building that used to house office and storage space for a pawn shop alleged to have been a front for a theft ring stands empty in Kent, Wash.  (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Detectives staked out the pawn shops, Innovation Best in Kent and Thrift-Electro in Renton, and observed that they appeared to be paying shoplifters and drug users cash for new items from Home Depot, Lowes and Fred Meyer department stores. Unlike typical pawn shops, they didn’t make sales; instead, the products were moved to a warehouse and to Amazon “fulfillment centers,” from where they were shipped when they were sold on Amazon’s website by sellers using the handles “Bestforyouall” or “Freeshipforyou,” the affidavit said.

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According to a database of pawnshop transactions reviewed by Auburn police, the suspect pawn shops paid more than $4.1 million to sellers who brought them nearly 48,000 items in the past six years. The items included allergy medication, razors, electric toothbrushes and tools in their original packaging. Detectives also conducted undercover operations in which they sold new items in their original packaging to the shops, which accepted them no questions asked, Kroshinsky wrote.

The FBI said it is awaiting more Amazon records to determine the full extent of Pavlovskiy’s enterprise, but that “estimated revenue from Amazon sales, for entities associated with Aleksandr Pavlovskiy, was at least $10 million since 2013.”

Pavlovskiy’s lawyer, Cristine Beckwith, did not return a message seeking comment.

The sale of stolen or counterfeit goods on Amazon or other digital marketplaces is not uncommon, but it was not immediately clear how many other schemes had reached such a volume of sales. Last year, police raided a pawn shop in Monroe, north of Seattle, that they said had taken in $428,000 fencing stolen items, much of it on Amazon.

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Jon Reily, a vice president for the digital consultancy firm Publicis Sapient and previously the head of e-commerce user experience for Amazon Devices, said preventing the sale of stolen goods is a major challenge for the company, but retailers can be held liable if they don’t do enough to ensure they’re not selling stolen goods. Because it’s impossible for Amazon to review “every Tide pod” that’s sold on its site, the company will likely need to do more to vet sellers, Riley said.

“It’s a little bit of an arms race for Amazon to be able to take in product, put it on the web and get it to their customers in a speedy fashion and not unwittingly sell stolen stuff at the same time,” Reily said. “Ultimately what Amazon has to do is show good faith if the government comes knocking on the door and says, ‘Look, you’re selling stolen goods.’”

Westlake Legal Group Amazon-Ring-3 Amazon drivers part of major theft ring, FBI says fox-news/us/us-regions/west/washington fox-news/us/crime fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox-news/health/orthopedics/technology fnc/tech fnc fff39165-5b8e-52ca-b672-d1a41232418e Associated Press article   Westlake Legal Group Amazon-Ring-3 Amazon drivers part of major theft ring, FBI says fox-news/us/us-regions/west/washington fox-news/us/crime fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox-news/health/orthopedics/technology fnc/tech fnc fff39165-5b8e-52ca-b672-d1a41232418e Associated Press article

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Amazon’s Ring service may have 200 police department partnerships already

Amazon’s Ring security service is reportedly working with 200 law enforcement agencies.

According to an email obtained by Motherboard, Ring has forged partnerships with law enforcement agencies, some of which require the agencies to advertise Ring home security services in exchange for free units and for access to an anonymized portal that lets them request security footage from users.

The email, which is dated April 16, reportedly contains notes taken during a Ring webinar by a police officer that claim 200 law enforcement agencies are using Ring’s “Law Enforcement Neighborhood Portal” — which allows police departments to see the approximate locations of all Ring cameras nearby and to request footage from their owners.

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Westlake Legal Group amazon-ring-getty-images Amazon's Ring service may have 200 police department partnerships already fox-news/tech/topics/security fox-news/tech/topics/privacy fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox news fnc/tech fnc ea0285be-293d-5db7-a9f4-b2688f6042ae Christopher Carbone article

Amazon has come under fire over its Ring service. ( Stephen Brashear via Getty Images) (Stephen Brashear via Getty Images)

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A Ring spokesperson apparently denied that the program was supposed to be a secret, but the company never disclosed the number of partnerships it maintains. Fox News reached out to Amazon for comment.

The Jeff Bezos-led tech giant has faced a broad pushback from civil liberties advocates and racial justice groups over the potential for bias in its facial recognition products, and the partnerships the company has forged with law enforcement. Critics say that Amazon’s Ring service is being used to pit neighbors against each other, so that they call the police frequently, and that it promotes racist stereotypes.

“Given the reality of police violence, with impunity, impacting primarily people of color in the United States, these kinds of acts threaten the lives of third parties who are simply, in some cases, doing their jobs or living in their own neighborhoods,” Shahid Buttar, director of grassroots advocacy for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Motherboard. “These are life-threatening acts, using platforms as megaphones.”

Meanwhile, digital rights group Fight for the Future has compiled an interactive map that shows the breadth of Amazon Ring partnerships nationwide for the first time.

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“It’s impossible to talk about government surveillance without also talking about corporate surveillance,” Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, told BuzzFeed News. “These Amazon Ring partnerships with police are the perfect example. A private individual can buy a private surveillance device from a private company and install it at their private residence, but then the information it collects can be transmitted to government authorities because that company has a for-profit partnership with the cops.”

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Westlake Legal Group amazon-ring-getty-images Amazon's Ring service may have 200 police department partnerships already fox-news/tech/topics/security fox-news/tech/topics/privacy fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox news fnc/tech fnc ea0285be-293d-5db7-a9f4-b2688f6042ae Christopher Carbone article   Westlake Legal Group amazon-ring-getty-images Amazon's Ring service may have 200 police department partnerships already fox-news/tech/topics/security fox-news/tech/topics/privacy fox-news/tech/topics/big-tech-backlash fox-news/tech/companies/amazon fox news fnc/tech fnc ea0285be-293d-5db7-a9f4-b2688f6042ae Christopher Carbone article

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