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Amazon Is Developing High-Tech Surveillance Tools for an Eager Customer: America’s Police

Published: August 9, 2019
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Source: nbc news

Amazon, known mainly for its online consumer marketplace, is becoming a potent resource for federal, state and local authorities, peddling an array of tools that harness the power of cloud-based computing, artificial intelligence and video analysis.

Some of the products seem mundane, offering agencies a relatively cheap method of storing, sharing and crunching data through networks of remote web servers known as the cloud. Others are contentious, making it easier for police to identify and monitor people. Together, they show how one company has broadened its influence by supplying law enforcement with technology that has modernized crime fighting but is evolving too fast for government oversight to keep up.

Amazon’s government work has become a significant component of the company’s move beyond e-commerce and into tools that run the internet. Its government contracts, through the company’s cloud-computing subsidiary, Amazon Web Services, have ballooned from $200 million in 2014 to $2 billion today, Daniel Ives, who researches Amazon at the financial advisory firm Wedbush Securities, said. That has allowed the company to build “a fortress of cloud deals” that include police departments, federal law enforcement, national intelligence agencies and immigration authorities.

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