Amazon faces spying claims over AI video cameras in vans

Amazon has started using AI-powered video cameras in delivery vans that constantly record video footage of chauffeurs and submit any mistakes they make.

The company says it is an investment in safety however personal privacy campaigners explained it as “monitoring”.

The video cameras will be on all the time but will only upload video for 16 actions, consisting of hard braking, motorist diversion and sleepiness.

One person informed CNBC the system was even triggered by the driver yawning.

The Kentucky-based motorist stated if someone yawns, they will be told to pull over for 15 minutes.

In a statement, Amazon informed the BBC: “We are purchasing security across our operations and have presented a variety of resources to provide delivery service partners with information to help them keep motorists safe when they are on the roadway.”

The system, which Amazon has started to install in delivery cars in the US, was explained in a video posted to Vimeo by Karolina Haraldsdottir, a senior supervisor of what is called last mile security.

Driveri is created by Californian start-up Netradyne, a transportation company which merges video and AI.

‘ George Orwell unique’

The system has 4 high-definition cameras which can identify “good chauffeur routines” along with bad, Ms Haraldsdottir says. One electronic camera points at the chauffeur, one on the roadway and 2 on either side of the lorry.

The video shows a driver taking a look at a mobile phone, and the system then providing a verbal warning about chauffeur diversion.

In a Reddit group for motorists, one commented: “Huge Sibling in the sky wishes to watch us now. I’m praying they pay us more considering that they want to enjoy each and every single error we might make.”

Director of UK-based Big Brother Watch, Silkie Carlo, stated of the system: “Amazon’s cravings for security understands no bounds. This intrusive, continuous tracking of employees develops an oppressive, distrustful and disempowering work environment that completely undermines workers’ rights.”

She said the company would deal with a major reaction if it attempted “Big-Brother-style personnel spying” in the UK.

A representative for the GMB union stated: “Rather than gimmicks, Amazon’s new CEO should buy making work safe for all Amazon workers and drivers.

” The concept of robotic electronic cameras now keeping watch on downtrodden delivery drivers is like something straight out of a dystopian George Orwell book.”

Amazon has this week agreed to settle allegations that it cheated some drivers out of tips. Under a handle the US Federal Trade Commission, it will pay approximately $62m (₤ 45m).

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