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Shareholder efforts to curb Amazon facial recognition tech fall short

first_img Amazon Privacy Share your voice Tags 1:11 Privacy advocates have issues with Amazon’s facial recognition… Comments Security Internet Now playing: Watch this: Amazon, meanwhile, sells Rekognition to policing agencies, with one sheriff’s office in Oregon already using the software to investigate crimes and make arrests.The company has also joined the call for more legislation and guidelines on facial recognition tech, but made no indication it would stop selling Rekognition to policing agencies.”New technology should not be banned or condemned because of its potential misuse,” Michael Punke, Amazon Web Services’ vice president of global public policy, said in a blog post in February. “Instead, there should be open, honest and earnest dialogue among all parties involved to ensure that the technology is applied appropriately and is continuously enhanced.”That position has brought a growing wave of criticism against Amazon, with civil liberties groups, members of Congress and its own employees calling on the e-commerce and cloud-computing giant to curb its sale of Rekognition to police. Open MIC, which helped organize the vote, said in a statement that this issue would not be going away.”Amazon’s refusal to acknowledge and confront the potential harms of Rekognition is ongoing evidence of corporate arrogance,” Michael Connor, Open MIC’s executive director, said in an email. “Investors have a right to know how Amazon intends to address these material risks to the company and its reputation. As one of the leading technology companies in the world, Amazon can and must do better.” Concerns about Rekognition also came up during public hearings before the New York City Council on Amazon’s failed proposal to build a new campus in the city, with council members repeatedly chastising the company for marketing Rekognition to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.Amazon on Wednesday said all other shareholder proposals also didn’t pass. Those included a call to study Amazon’s impact on climate change, a request for a report on how Amazon addresses hate speech and offensive products on its platform, and a proposal to elect an independent chairman so Bezos wasn’t both CEO and the head of the board. Originally published at 9:52 a.m. PT.Updated at 9:57 a.m. PT: Adds remarks from the ACLU. At 10:33 a.m. PT: To add responses from Open MIC. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images Two Amazon shareholder proposals about the company’s controversial facial recognition technology failed to pass Wednesday, following a concerted push by civil rights groups and activist investors.One proposal would have banned Amazon from selling its Rekognition technology to government agencies unless it first determines the software doesn’t infringe on civil liberties. The other proposal called for an independent study of the potential privacy and human rights violations caused by Rekognition.Both proposals were presented at Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting in Seattle on Wednesday. The company said it isn’t disclosing the vote tallies until this Friday.”The fact that there needed to be a vote on this is an embarrassment for Amazon’s leadership team. It demonstrates shareholders do not have confidence that company executives are properly understanding or addressing the civil and human rights impacts of its role in facilitating pervasive government surveillance,” Shankar Narayan, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington’s Technology and Liberty Project director, said in a statement. “While we have yet to see the exact breakdown of the vote, this shareholder intervention should serve as a wake-up call for the company to reckon with the real harms of face surveillance and to change course.”Both proposals, which were non-binding, were long shots to pass, since Amazon’s board said it was against the proposals. Major shareholders typically follow such positions to show support for the board. Also, CEO Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s board chairman, is the company’s biggest shareholder, controlling about 16% of its stock, and wasn’t expected to vote for either proposal.Amazon said it was against the proposals because the technology has proven its value in improving public safety, adding to its view that Rekognition provides “material benefits to both society and organizations” using the software.The decision quickly reached Capital Hill, where lawmakers were holding a hearing looking at facial recognition’s effects on civil liberties.”I just got word that the shareholders did not end up passing a ban on the sale of Rekognition,” Rep. Jimmy Gomez, a Democrat from California, said at the hearing. “That just means that it’s more important that Congress acts.”Despite the failure of the shareholder votes, the groups pushing for changes to Rekognition’s use succeeded in raising awareness about the technology and keeping pressure on Amazon. Organizations like the ACLU have spoken out against face identification’s use, saying it could quickly turn the US into a surveillance state and infringe on people’s privacy.Following the shareholder vote Wednesday, it seems likely activists will continue pushing against Rekognition’s use but find other public venues to do so.Both Google and Microsoft have publicly said they won’t sell their facial recognition tech to law enforcement, instead asking for new laws to guide their use. In less controversial settings, facial recognition tech is also used to unlock Apple iPhones using the Face ID feature and to check travelers’ identities at government kiosks at US airports.”It’s not just our test, it’s other tests that have noted similar problems with Amazon’s software and other face recognition algorithms,” the ACLU’s senior legislative counsel Neema Singh Guliani told Congress members at a hearing on Wednesday.  2 We’re at @Amazon’s shareholder meeting today urging shareholders to take action in response to the company’s failure to address the civil rights impacts of its face surveillance technology.Ironically, Amazon won’t allow cameras into the meeting, so we’ve filmed a short preview: pic.twitter.com/tNN4pkK4tG— ACLU (@ACLU) May 22, 2019last_img read more

Union Budget 2017 updates How the tech industry reacted to FM Arun

first_imgThe Union Budget for 2017-2018 is out and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has been widely applauded for the changes brought into effect on Wednesday, February 1. IBTimes India has covered the budget allocations for various sectors, including railways, real estate, defence, income tax, agriculture, rural development, Fintech and the rest.Read: Sector-wise allocation in the Budget 2017-2018The bold decisions taken by Jaitley in the latest budget are widely welcomed by all the sectors. The latest budget has received mixed reactions from the technology companies, most of them applauding the minister’s announcements.Here are some of the major tech company responses to the Union Budget 2017-2018:MediaTek”We were expecting Financial Budget 2017 to offer incentives to start inflow towards design led manufacturing in place of assembly led manufacturing ecosystem, but it seems government not yet convinced towards adopting multiple layered incentives for localization while increasing the duties on CBU (Completely built Units), overall based on the information available from the budget the impact of the policies seems to be neutral for mobile/tablet industry, at best.There has been a 2% increase in duties levied on import of PCBA in India, which still will reflect only on one part of the manufacturing cycle with focus on assembly of mobile handsets. On the other hand, providing attractive incentives for localization of design and R&D capabilities would have bolstered the ‘Make in India’ initiative, and driven more handset makers to introduce design led manufacturing in India,” Kuldeep Malik, Country Head – Corporate Sales International, MediaTek India, saidShopClues”Budget was overall a populist budget; a move in the right direction but short of expectations. Push for Digital transformation & financial inclusion is applauded but the government has deployed lot more sticks rather than carrots too to push the “less-cash” agenda.I would have expected zero TDR for small value digital transitions. Investments in infrastructure, focus on Bharat & employment guarantee & women empowerment, political trans is welcome. Corporate tax break for SMES is very nice, and much awaited, it is important that government recognizes SMES to be the engine of India’s GDP growth. Incentive for Startup fell short of expectations. There is not much clarity around FDI, FIPB so let’s see how it pans out in coming days,” Sanjay Sethi, CEO & Co-founder of Shopclues, said.Paytm”It is a digital economy budget. Government has pushed the digital theme in every area of the budget. Every person from small shops to consumers is pushed towards the digital economy. Tax benefits, incentives to use digital payments and extending loans based on a digital footprint will create a larger merchant ecosystem for digital payments. Incentives for labour intensive sectors including housing, farming and dairy will help SMEs to create new jobs. Focus and attention to bank NPAs, as well as increasing bank capitalisation is great step towards strengthening the financial system of the country. Finally, the income tax rate changes will encourage more people to report their incomes and create a larger tax net for the country. Overall, it is a great budget that will encourage people to move to the formal economy and derive benefits,” Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder & CEO of Paytm, said.Opera”This year’s Union budget is game changing and progressive. Demonetization is leading Indians to shift towards a Digital India. The cashback scheme and referral bonus to promote the usage of BHIM app will make citizens more comfortable with mobile wallets. This is extremely encouraging for company operating in internet space like us because no of Indians coming online will increase exponentially.Our country is becoming the victim of hackers, the proposal of a dedicated Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) for the financial sector is a beneficial move as it would help in keeping transactions safe and secure. Moreover, the extension of tax holiday from existing 5 years to 7 years will cheer up the start-up ecosystem. We wish the finance minister a great luck to implement all the progressive reforms,” Sunil Kamath, ‎Vice President – South Asia & Southeast Asia at Opera, said.Sennheiser Electronics India”The Union Budget 2017-18 significantly focuses on bringing socio economic development and digitalization in the country while emphasizing on the nine key initiatives for economic reforms — Farmers and rural population, youth education and job opportunities, poor and underprivileged, infrastructure, financial sector, digital economy, public service, prudent fiscal management and tax administration.With increase in Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Exchange reserve, India has now emerged as one of the fastest growing economy with an accelerated growth in 2016-2017.It is also quite encouraging to see that investment on infrastructure has been given priority at today’s budget while focusing on the GDP growth,” Vinu Cheriyan CFO & Director Operations at Sennheiser, said.itel Mobile”The Union Budget-2017 carries significant prospects for manufacturing brands. The FM has included provisions meant to boost electronic manufacturing by promoting MSIPS and EDF. Such policies would further receive funds worth 745 crores in FY18, hence, promoting indigenous manufacturers and attracting innovation and technology prowess engineered by foreign countries. And while the manufacturing sector celebrates policy changes, we further appreciate the streamlined delivery of these products, via the GST bill.These announcements are further in sync with the overall emphasis on transitioning India into a digital economy, empowered with fast internet access, cyber-security and access to smartphones. It is heartening to see the union budget for FY18 support the right to progress by shifting the focus back on to rural economy and agriculture; which truly resonates with our brand proposition. The provisions put forth in the budget are going to improve the buying capacity, digital lifestyles and affluence of the rural India and we at itel, welcome these changes and look forward to the promising year ahead,” Sudhir Kumar, CEO of itel Mobile, said.nexGTv”I welcome the budget and appreciate the clear commitment shown by the Government towards fueling the growth of digital adaptation by focusing on underlying infrastructure. This is reflected in the availability of more spectrums and 10k crore worth of budget allocation for fiber optic laying beyond the already laid 155000 km. The availability of bandwidth will help Indians adapt to the digital lifestyle and thus, will help in the growth of the entire ecosystem. Additionally, the rebate in tax for people, especially the ones at the bottom of the pyramid will increase their in-hand disposable income a part which will also be spent on mobility, data, and entertainment, further working for the benefit of the OTT players,” Abhesh Verma, COO of nexGTV, said.Roposo”The government’s move to enable startups, incorporated after 31 March 2016, avail of a three-year tax holiday in their first seven years is quite commendable. We also welcome the new relaxations provided in terms of carrying forward the losses. The government’s efforts to digitise India and promote digital payments should go a long way in boosting the country’s economic growth.However, the 5% corporate tax reduction is not relevant to most startups that have not yet begun generating as much revenue. Government should now start thinking about how to reduce startups’ real cost in the early years. In my opinion, income tax slabs should be made completely flat. Tax rates should not increase with increasing income,” Mayank Bhangadia, CEO and co-founder of Roposo, said.iValue InfoSolutions”We will call it a balanced budget, which will drive growth with prudence and addressing needs of the poor. The major thrust on Capex growth of 25% should drive demand. The focus on infrastructure and rural areas are welcoming. We did not hear much on cyber security with a greater push on the digital transaction, but for the creation of CERT. We still think a lot more focus is required on this front,” Sriram S, co-founder and Director at iValue InfoSolutions, said.Array Networks”I am overall happy with the budget, the increased focus on cashless economy and move towards digitization is very much appreciable. I will call it a forward looking budget with the balanced Tax soaps, IT rebates, focus on rural areas and SME development. Also, the reduction in tax for companies with less than Rs. 50 crore turnover, which will now be placed at 25% is a big win for MSME sector and around 96% of the companies will be benefitted by this major announcement,” Shibu Paul, Regional Director (IN , GCC & SEA ) at Array Networks, said.CrediHealth”The Union Budget 2017 has taken a step towards making healthcare not just affordable but structurally robust as well. However, technology could prove to be a disruptive factor in assuring that the healthcare reaches out to those who have been hitherto isolated from it. But, unfortunately the budget has completely overlooked the health-tech startups which are changing the landscape of healthcare industry in India. With a focus on transparency and reach, they have been deprived of an opportunity to make an dent in healthcare ecosystem,” Ravi Virmani, MD & Founder of CrediHealth, said.Aeris”Overall a very positive budget. Reduction of corporate tax rates from 30% to 25% for MSME firms will definitely encourage investors and corporates. Some of the steps taken will definitely increase foreign direct investment and lead to employment generation which will be good for country,” Rishi Bhatnagar, President at Aeris, said.last_img read more

Kuwait praises Bangladesh army

first_imgChief of Staff of Kuwait Armed Forces Lt Gen Mohamed Khaled al-Khadher speaks to newsmen about the rescue operation by the Bangladesh army. Photo: The Gulf TimesChief of staff of Kuwait Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Mohamed Khaled al-Khadher has appreciated the Bangladesh army personnel for their capacity to respond quickly.He referred to the quick rescue operation after a Bangladesh Air Force helicopter carrying him and 15 others made an emergency landing in Sreemangal on Wednesday, The Gulf Times reported on Friday.“The capability of the Bangladesh army personnel in the rescue is highly appreciable…They came to the rescue in just five minutes after the emergency landing,” he was quoted to have said.The visiting Kuwait Armed Forces chief was speaking at an event where he met prime minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence Ganobhaban, the report said referring to the prime minister’s press secretary.Lt Gen Mohamed Khaled al-Khadher was said to have stressed that Bangladesh and Kuwait have a strong relation and the purpose of his visit to Bangladesh was to strengthen ties further.According to the report, Al-Khadher pointed out that more than 6,000 Bangladeshi armed forces members are working in Kuwait and are highly professional and dedicated.Al-Khadher reportedly lauded Bangladesh’s role in providing refuge to Rohingyas fleeing genocide in Myanmar.last_img read more

ExTrump Campaign Aide Vows To Fight Mueller Subpoena In TV Tirades

first_imgDrew Angerer/Getty ImagesJustice Department special counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed former Donald Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg in the Russia matter — but Nunberg says he won’t go comply.A former campaign aide to Donald Trump is vowing to fight a subpoena he says he’s received in the Russia investigation — and dared special counsel Robert Mueller to arrest him.Sam Nunberg called reporters and TV news programs on Monday and said live that he’d gotten a grand jury subpoena as part of Mueller’s investigation asking for communications with other people in the Trump orbit — but that he won’t comply.“Let him arrest me,” Nunberg told The Washington Post. “Mr. Mueller should understand I am not going in.”Nunberg then went on MSNBC and two CNN shows to publicize his refusal to comply with the Mueller probe. He said he had been summoned to appear before a grand jury on Friday but would not, nor would he produce evidence.What followed was a rambling, at-times incoherent series of exchanges as Nunberg asked for legal advice, opined about whether Trump colluded with Russia, and relitigated an internal Trump campaign power struggle from 2015 — all live, on the air, in real time.“I think that [Trump] may have done something during the election,” Nunberg told MSNBC’s Katy Tur, adding later, “I don’t know that for sure.”“I’m not cooperating,” Nunberg said. “Arrest me.”Nunberg is a lawyer who has been admitted to the New York state bar after graduating from Touro Law Center on Long Island, N.Y. All the same, he asked for legal advice from various cable news show hosts: “What do you think Mueller’s going to do to me?” he asked Tur.“Do you think I should cooperate?” Nunberg asked CNN’s Jake Tapper. “Why do I have to produce every email? I talk to [former Trump advisers] Steve Bannon and Roger Stone eight times a day.”“Sometimes life and special prosecutors are not fair,” Tapper quipped.Nunberg also accused former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page of having played a role with the foreign attack on the election.“I believe Carter Page was colluding with the Russians,” Nunberg said on CNN.Page was a junior foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. He traveled to Moscow twice in 2016 and was the subject of surveillance by the U.S. intelligence community. Page stridently denies doing anything wrong.He and Nunberg never overlapped on the Trump campaign. The Trump campaign fired Nunberg in the summer of 2015, when the Trump candidacy was still in its infancy. Business Insider had written about Nunberg’s racially charged Facebook posts from years prior, and the nascent political organization jettisoned him.At the time, Nunberg’s firing was viewed as part of a broader struggle between Trump aides Corey Lewandowski and Roger Stone. Nunberg decided to relitigate this on Monday.“Corey wanted to push us out. That’s the reality. Now Trump loves Corey. I don’t know why he does,” Nunberg said.By December of that year, Nunberg predicted that Trump’s campaign was being led in the wrong direction, and would not win the Republican nomination. By March 2016, Nunberg had endorsed Trump opponent Ted Cruz. The drama continued into the summer of 2016, when Trump sued his former aide for $10 million, alleging Nunberg broke his nondisclosure agreement. After a time, that lawsuit was settled.Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Sharelast_img read more

Baltimore Choral Arts presents a Free Community Sing

first_imgBaltimore Choral Arts and the Community Concert Choir of Baltimore, under the direction of Dr. Marco Merrick, in collaboration with Northside Baptist Church are hosting a free Community Sing of spirituals and gospel music on October 13 at 7pm.  All attendees are welcome to participate in the music-making. Tickets are not required for the event, and seating will be first-come, first-served. Visit www.baltimorechoralarts.com for more information.last_img

Female jumbo gets electrocuted in Siliguri