Oct 24, 2019 - Technology

More than 800 independent musicians plot Amazon boycott over work with ICE

More than 800 independent musicians announced an initiative on Thursday called "No Music for ICE," pledging not to participate in Amazon-sponsored events or exclusive partnerships with the tech giant over its entanglements with the U.S. immigration authority.

Why it matters: This cultural push — spurred by Amazon Web Services' sponsorship of a Las Vegas music festival — highlights how companies are increasingly facing pressure from all sides to answer for how their work impacts hot-button issues in the Trump era.

  • Amazon's work with ICE has already forced internal and external revolts within the tech industry.

The big picture: Amazon, along with fellow tech company Palantir, came under fire last year in an advocacy group report for "their involvement at multiple points in the profiling, tracking and apprehension of undocumented persons."

  • The report found that Amazon served as the "primary cloud service provider" for ICE.
  • It also noted that Palantir was the agency's "provider of case management that can be integrated with key DHS fusion centers and local and state law enforcement agencies."
  • Amazon also marketed its facial recognition software, Rekognition, to ICE last year, prompting concerns that the technology could facilitate racial discrimination by identifying women and people of color less accurately than men and white people.

The demands to Amazon from the artists:

  • Terminate contracts with government agencies that "commit human rights abuses."
  • Stop providing cloud services to organizations like Palantir.
  • End its facial recognition program.

What they're saying: Speedy Ortiz's Sadie Dupuis, one of the voices leading the protest, told Brooklyn Vegan, "Navigating the ethics of the music industry can be tricky, but it shouldn’t be tricky to say no to opportunities that are complicit with ICE. Doing so would be antithetical to many of our missions as artists, and it’s time to say we won't."

  • Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper: Check out the full list of participating musicians.

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