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Amazon facial recognition ban won only 2% of the shareholder votes

(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc. shareholders overwhelmingly rejected a proposal that the company stop the sale of facial recognition technology to the government, while a resolution to an audit of the service attracted more support, a regulatory filing on Friday showed.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is seen in the company’s logistics centre in Boves, France, August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

Approximately 2.4% of the votes in favor of the ban. A second proposal is for a study of the extent to which Amazon’s “Rekognition” service violated civil rights and privacy, garnered 27.5% support.

Amazon is selling the technology to law enforcement in Oregon and Florida, the company has in the middle of a growing US debate about face detection, with critics warning of false agreements and the arrests and the proponents argue keeps the public safe.

Amazon has defended its work and said all users must follow the law.

These and other Amazon decisions by the shareholders faced an uphill battle to win majority, with Amazon’s board of directors to recommend against them, and is the founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos control 16% of the shares and voting rights.

The calculation of support is based on the total number of votes for, against or abstained from voting. The counting of the votes excluded broker non-votes.

Enforcement of the law in the United States have used facial recognition for years, and the suppliers of the technology have abounded, including France Idemia, japan’s NEC Corp and newcomers as Israel’s AnyVision and Microsoft Corp, which has called for the regulations in recent months.

Now, the members of the U.S. Congress are looking to the judgments of the impact of the technology. Amazon’s marketing of facial recognition has resulted in an intense control, and researchers have said that the technology effort to identify the gender of the persons with a dark skin, in which the fears of the unjust arrests.

Among other issues, the shareholders considered for the Amazon the annual meeting on Wednesday, was a request to make it easier for investors to call a special meeting, who garnered 35.3% of the votes.

A proposal that the company report how it plans to deal with climate change received 29.8% of the votes. Nearly 7,700 employees had signed a letter of support from the climate resolution, in a sign of rising employee activism at Amazon.

Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco; Editing by Peter Henderson and Leslie Adler

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