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At Amazon, facial recognition ban won just 2% of shareholder vote

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Amazon.com Inc shareholders overwhelmingly rejected a proposal that the company stop selling facial recognition technology to government agencies, a regulatory filing on Friday showed.

[SAN FRANCISCO] Amazon.com Inc shareholders overwhelmingly rejected a proposal that the company stop selling facial recognition technology to government agencies, a regulatory filing on Friday showed.

Some 2.4 per cent of votes were in favour of the closely watched resolution, while the remaining votes were against it and some were in abstention. The tally excludes broker non-votes.

Amazon's sale of the technology to law enforcement in Oregon and Florida has put the company at the centre of a growing US debate over facial recognition, with critics warning of false matches and arrests and proponents arguing it keeps the public safe.

Drawing more shareholder support was a second proposal that called for a study of the extent to which Amazon's service harmed civil rights and privacy. Some 27.5 per cent of votes were in favour.

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These and other resolutions faced an uphill battle to winning majority support, with Amazon's board recommending against them and founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos controlling 16 per cent of the stock and voting rights.

Among other issues on the ballot was a request to make it easier for shareholders to call a special meeting, which garnered 35.3 per cent of votes. A proposal that the company report how it plans to deal with climate change received 29.8 per cent of votes. Nearly 7,700 employees had signed a letter of support of the climate resolution in a sign of rising worker activism at Amazon.

REUTERS