In an unusual juxtaposition of technology and politics, many grassroots activists, including Amazon employees, are calling for the company to boot big data firm Palantir from its Amazon Web services cloud.
Palantir has a $51 million contract with the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency which is due to start raids of nine U.S. cities tomorrow in a sweeping bid to lock up those without certain legal authority.
With that in mind, there’s a widespread call for Amazon to take an unusual step and decry Palantir’s activity, while ceasing to enable that firms data services through the AWS platform.
“Our demands have become even more urgent given recent news,” write signatories to the letter. “The US government has been detaining people, including young children, in concentration camps under horrific conditions. Reports have described extreme overcrowding (one facility was holding 900 people, in a space designed for only 125), freezing temperatures (facilities are regularly referred to as “hieleras” or “iceboxes”), and cruelty from guards at these detention centers. When members of Congress visited a facility recently, they learned that detained women were ‘told by agents to drink from the toilets’ if they wanted water. This is a horrifying violation of human rights — and it’s powered by AWS.”
Amazon events have been disrupted by protesters asking the firm to limit its involvement in various ways.
The movement coincides with threats of a strike by some Amazon workers prior to Amazon prime day on Monday.
All of this has vaulted Amazon in the news media as U.S. legislators prepare to take a look at an antitrust probe into the company’s e-commerce dominance.
What Amazon decides will certainly be a notable moment in the ethical life of a top technology company.