Amazon Monitoring Workers With Thermal Cameras Purchased From Sanctioned Chinese Company, Report Says
New reporting from Reuters indicates that commerce megacorporation Amazon is monitoring the body temperatures of its warehouse workers using thermal cameras manufactured by a Chinese company known for cooperating with the Chinese government’s persecution of the country’s Uyghur minority.
Amazon secured 1,500 thermal cameras from Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co Ltd. earlier this month. The devices are intended to identify workers with a fever in the massive corporation’s warehouses, under the guise of preventing coronavirus from spreading in the company’s workplaces. However, the policy has been criticized as an invasive example of corporate privacy violation.
Dahua is formally sanctioned by the United States government for its complicity with authoritarian Chinese government policies towards the Uyghur minority. A listing from the Department of Commerce describes the company as “implicated” in “China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups.” Governmental entities are banned from purchasing equipment from Dahua, but private companies are free to purchase the global surveillance camera company’s products.
The use of Dahua’s cameras in Amazon warehouses also has national security implications. Nominally private Chinese companies are legally obligated to cooperate with the communist authoritarian nation’s intelligence services, meaning the cameras could provide confidential information to the Chinese government.
Amazon dismissed privacy concerns in a statement on the matter provided to Reuters. “None of this equipment has network connectivity, and no personal identifiable information will be visible, collected, or stored.”
As small businesses have struggled in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos have prospered. The ultrabillionaire has increased his net worth by a whopping $24 billion, easily regaining the distinction of being the world’s richest man.