In an unnerving change of events for Amazon employees, the company is now forcing new AI cameras and biometric contracts onto drivers.
Thanks to an exclusive report by Vice, we now have information that Amazon is planning on retrofitting delivery vans with biometric, AI powered cameras, which requires that delivery drivers sign a biometric consent form. In addition to that haunting piece of information, it’s also been said that the information may be provided to 3rd parties, which is incredibly disturbing considering the power of biometric data.
Nationwide delivery drivers will have to sign this biometric consent form this week, in a means to grant Amazon the ability to install and/or use AI-powered cameras to view drivers’ location, movement, and biometric data. If any of Amazon’s 75,000 delivery drivers refuse to accept the conditions, they lose their jobs.
The form requires drivers to agree to facial recognition, seatbelt tracking, and other biometric scans, as explained in the company’s official terms and conditions:
“Amazon may… use certain Technology that processes Biometric Information, including on-board safety camera technology which collects your photograph for the purposes of confirming your identity and connecting you to your driver account; Using your photograph, this Technology, may create Biometric Information, and collect, store, and use Biometric Information from such photographs;
This Technology tracks vehicle location and movement, including miles driven, speed, acceleration, braking, turns, and following distance …as a condition of delivery packages for Amazon, you consent to the use of Technology.”
Amazon announced plans to install these AI cameras, designed by tech company Netradyne, back in February, prompting some drivers to immediately resign from their positions. While Amazon says that the cameras are being used to “improve safety and the quality of the driver experience,” it’s being considered as a major privacy violation.
These Netradyne cameras, called Driveri, are four-lens AI-powered cameras, with the ability to sense yawning, distraction, or even when the driver isn’t wearing a seatbelt. This is on-top of other more easily understood ideas, including monitoring vehicle speed, distance, and acceleration, as well as the drivers’ body and facial movements.
In response to claims of invading privacy, Deborah Bass, a spokesperson for Amazon, had said:
“Netradyne cameras are used to help keep drivers and the communities where we deliver safe. We piloted the technology from April to October 2020 on over two million miles of delivery routes and the results produced remarkable driver and community safety improvements—accidents decreased 48 percent, stop sign violations decreased 20 percent, driving without a seatbelt decreased 60 percent, and distracted driving decreased 45 percent. Don’t believe the self-interested critics who claim these cameras are intended for anything other than safety.”
While many could attribute these changes in safety to the camera’s reminders, it’s also likely that these changes were less from active sensing, and more so from deterrence, as having a camera watch you 24/7 can be pretty unnerving.
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However, the policy’s not only attracting driver and consumer dislike, but also attention from the United States Federal Government. Earlier last month, Congress actually sent a letter to Amazon from five senators who raised concerns. This isn’t a great sign for Amazon, as any Congressional disapproval could lead to some legal and/or financial disputes.
You can actually read about the letter over at CNBC through this link.
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