After Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos went on the offensive against the National Enquirer and its parent company AMI, saying they threatened to release intimate photos of himself and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, many in the media lauded the billionaire for his stance and his defense of privacy.
Some critics of Amazon, however, found the situation ironic.
“I totally disapprove of what the National Enquirer did to Jeff Bezos, I do,” Tucker Carlson said regarding the alleged extortion and blackmail attempt. “But, it does raise the question: What is Amazon doing to the rest of us?”
“I wish we were a society that left consensual adult sex to the people engaged in them... That’s all the reasons why we should value privacy,” journalist Glenn Greenwald said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” before adding that “one of the companies that poses the greatest threat to [privacy] is Amazon.”
Greenwald, co-founding editor of The Intercept, said Amazon's online marketplace is just a small part of the huge company's operation -- and, in fact, its primary business has contributed heavily to making America a “surveillance state.”
“We think of Amazon through their branding, that it's some place we buy books from or download our Kindle from. In fact, their main business is working with the security state agencies to build huge apparatuses of the surveillance state that invade our privacy far more severe than what the National Enquirer did to Jeff Bezos, and that’s the part of this story that’s so ironic,” Greenwald told Carlson.
Greenwald wrote last week in The Intercept: “In December, 2017, Amazon boasted that it had perfected new face-recognition software for crowds, which it called Rekognition. It explained that the product is intended, in large part, for use by governments and police forces around the world.”
“Why do I never read that story?” Carlson asked Greenwald.
“It’s because Silicon Valley is more powerful than Washington, than Wall Street is,” Greenwald responded. “It’s because Silicon Valley now controls huge parts of the media.”
Michael Punke, Amazon Web Services' vice president of global public policy, defended Rekognition in a blog post last week.
“In the two-plus years we’ve been offering Amazon Rekognition, we have not received a single report of misuse by law enforcement. Even with this strong track record to date, we understand why people want there to be oversight and guidelines put in place to make sure facial recognition technology cannot be used to discriminate,” Punke wrote.
He also said the company supported calls for legislation but added: “New technology should not be banned or condemned because of its potential misuse.”