Nov 27, 2019

Amazon faces pressure over Ring privacy and warehouse conditions

Ina Fried, author of Login

A Ring security camera system. Photo: Glenn Chapman/AFP via Getty Images

For retailers, Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday buying season with Black Friday and Cyber Monday in quick succession — but Amazon has some difficult business to deal with before it can start celebrating.

What's new: This week, fresh reports cast further doubts on the company's handling of working conditions at its warehouses and surveillance questions related to its Ring doorbell-cameras.

Driving the news:

  • The Intercept reports that Ring was developing a "watch list" feature driven by facial recognition software as well as a mechanism for owners to be notified of potentially suspicious activity. A company spokesperson told Axios that "nothing he's described is in development or in use today."
  • Gizmodo detailed "staggering" high worker injury rates at a New York warehouse. A report in the Atlantic places the blame on "ruthless quotas" imposed by the company on its workers.
  • Meanwhile, a new report this week from the Center for Investigative Reporting suggests Indiana officials manipulated the state's investigation into an Amazon worker's death to promote the region's bid for the company's HQ2 office.

Why it matters: Amazon has grown into arguably the world's largest retailer, and in the U.S. its vast reach online and off touches a huge percentage of households. Though the company has so far escaped the kind of public outcry that Facebook has encountered, it's becoming an increasingly prominent target for investigations by both media and regulators.

Go deeper: What Amazon knows about you

Go deeper

Updated 11 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 6,772,361 — Total deaths: 395,703 — Total recoveries — 2,772,730Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 1,898,401 — Total deaths: 109,137 — Total recoveries: 491,706 — Total tested: 19,231,444Map.
  3. Public health: Fauci: "Very concerned" about spread of coronavirus amid George Floyd protests — Cities offer free coronavirus testing amid protests
  4. Sports: How coronavirus could reshuffle the sports calendar.
  5. Jobs: Better-than-expected jobs report boosts stock market.

Trump's week of viral quicksand

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Stories about President Trump's photo op at St. John's church after peaceful protesters were forcefully cleared from the area averaged the most online attention of any issue about the president this week.

Why it matters: Trump's force-over-compassion approach to the demonstrators protesting the murder of George Floyd had Republican allies backpedaling to keep a distance — and led to a wave of condemnations that got plenty of online traction on their own.

Biden formally secures Democratic presidential nomination

Joe Biden speaks at Delaware State University's student cente on June 5. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden became the formal Democratic presidential nominee on Friday evening, per AP.

The big picture: Biden has been the presumptive frontrunner to take on President Trump since Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign in early April.