Published on: March 17, 2023
With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…
• NBC News reports that a class action lawsuit has been filed in New York charging Amazon, in violation of local laws, did not inform customers at its Amazon Go checkout-free stores there that facial recognition technology was in use.
The story says that "the lawsuit says that Amazon only recently put up signs informing New York customers of its use of facial recognition technology, more than a year after the disclosure law went into effect. Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment."
This sounds to me like another one of those lawsuits where somebody prompted by lawyers saw a potential payday. That said, there were local ordinances that Amazon may not have observed, and you are supposed to pay a price when you violate the law.
There is a broader lesson here, though, about the importance of transparency, even when it is not mandated. Just tell people what tech is being used, why it is being used, and how it benefits them, and the vast majority will be fine. The ones that are not can choose to shop elsewhere.
• From the Puget Sound Business Journal:
"Amazon.com Inc. is standing pat regarding its decision last month to bring employees back to the office at least three days per week starting May 1.
"In an internal FAQ posted Wednesday reviewed by the Business Journal, company leaders signaled the company doesn't intend to make many exceptions to its return-to-office policy.
"The Seattle-based tech giant got immediate pushback after CEO Andy Jassy said in a Feb. 17 internal blog post that corporate and tech employees were expected to be in the office most days starting in May, with few exceptions. A petition urging Jassy and his senior leadership team, or 'S-team' to reverse the decision has over 30,000 signatures."
According to the story, "Among the 28 questions answered in the FAQ, one asks whether people who live far from an assigned office still need to come in three days per week.
"Amazon's response doesn't leave much room for exceptions to the policy, and urges such employees to discuss options like 'allowing extra time until you can relocate back to your assigned area or transferring to another team near your location.'
"Employees will know where they're assigned by April 14, according to the FAQ."
• From the Seattle Times:
"Amazon may be on the hook to make changes to improve worker safety at a Kent warehouse following a new court ruling.
"After state regulators cited Amazon for failing to create a safe work environment, Amazon sued the Department of Labor and Industries in October. Amazon argued the department had stacked the system against employers, in part because the company is expected to implement some of the proposed changes even while Amazon appeals the citation.
"A federal judge in Seattle ruled Tuesday against Amazon, finding the department did not violate Amazon’s right to due process. In this case, the process that requires Amazon to address safety concerns while an appeal is pending is fast, the judge found. But that speed is warranted given concerns about the safety of workers who are still clocking in every day."