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Amazon employees seek to deplatform Palantir – founded by Peter Thiel – from Amazon cloud

Amazon employees seek to deplatform Palantir – founded by Peter Thiel – from Amazon cloud

A threat to internet freedom, and Amazon’s cash-cow.

Amazon employees have circulated a letter demanding that Jeff Bezos cancel sales of facial recognition software to ICE in protest of zero tolerance policies as to illegal border crossers. Those arrests have resulted in some children being temporarily separated from their arrested parents (as happens whenever U.S. citizens are arrested and incarcerated.)

If you read the headlines, you’d think the demand to stop sales to ICE was the big story. Here’s how The Washington Post headlined it:

Employees at are calling on chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos to end the sale of facial-recognition technology to law enforcement agencies and to discontinue partnerships with companies that work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

In a letter, a group of Amazon workers said they are also troubled by a recent report from the American Civil Liberties Union revealing the company’s sale and marketing of Rekognition, its facial-recognition technology, to police departments and government agencies. Workers at Amazon are protesting the recently halted Trump administration policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

So you’re telling us that some Amazon employees bring their personal politics into the office including as to which companies Amazon should do business with?

That is not, of course, a shock to us: Amazon demonetizes conservative website (us).

While Amazon purported to give a non-political reason for termination (which we dispute), I believe that someone in Amazon wanted us gone. The attempt by employees to sever ties with ICE comes after a controversy of Amazon terminating a conservative law group’s participation in the Amazon Smile program, This is my *shocked* face: Amazon turns over policing of its charity program to SPLC

But that is not the big story about the Amazon employee letter demanding a halt to doing business with ICE.

Gizmodo, which first reported the story, notes a much more ominous additional demand, that the company Trump-supporter Peter Thiel founded be kicked off the Amazon cloud service:

In addition to its demands about Rekognition, the Amazon employee letter also calls on the company to boot Palantir, the Peter Thiel-founded firm that offers predictive policing tools to law enforcement and enjoys a hefty contract with ICE, from Amazon Web Services. (Thiel secretly funded a lawsuit that led to the bankruptcy of Gawker Media, Gizmodo’s former parent company.)

The Amazon letter appears to be the first time an employee demand letter has moved beyond calls to cancel a specific contract to demands to remove a customer from a cloud platform. Although it may seem like a small distinction, it’s an important one for tech companies. Leadership at Microsoft and Google have drawn a distinction between providing benign cloud services to ethically questionable customers and aiding these firms with specific tech that could be used to cause harm. Google, for instance, said that its AI should be used for “socially beneficial” purposes but that it would continue to work with the government for projects like search and rescue or cybersecurity.

“We refuse to build the platform that powers ICE,” the Amazon letter states, “and we refuse to contribute to tools that violate human rights.”

Here’s the language from the letter via Gizmodo:

“Stop providing infrastructure to Palantir and any other Amazon partners who enable ICE.”

The demand to kick Thiel’s company off Amazon’s cloud platform is not the first time politics has led to demands that Amazon and other tech giants deplatform companies. NRA-TV was such a target after the Parkland School shooting:

There is an ongoing campaign touted on social media by the small group of students but organizes by groups like Think Progress. Sleeping Giants and Moms Demand Action, who are targeting corporations that do business with the NRA, mostly though discounts offered to NRA members. Using a playbook refined against Glenn Beck, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and others, companies are being bombarded on social media with demands they sever ties.

It’s not surprising that they are having immediate success. Corporations are cowards when faced with such leftist campaigns. Hertz, Delta, United and many others have severed ties….

But it’s going further. People like Joe Scarborough have joined a campaign to deplatform NRA-TV. That is, to force companies like Apple, Amazon and YouTube to shut down NRA-TV’s ability to stream content….

Leftists have identified a weak point — private entities are not constrained by the 1st Amendment the way the government is, but they perform on the internet quasi-governmental functions over internet infrastructure and access.

NRA-TV was not the first such attempt to use the political leverage liberals and leftists have within the tech world to cut off political opponents from access to internet services:

Attempts to induce corporations to silence conservatives are nothing new. We have seen years of pressure tactics from groups such as Media Matter to shut down voices such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity by pressuring and harassing advertisers. Campaigns are currently underway to force advertisers away from websites such as Breitbart and Gateway Pundit….

That tactic now has gone to a completely different level with attempts to intimidate internet hosting companies and companies that provide internet infrastructure to cut off access to the internet. So far, the effort has been focused on the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer. People might not care that The Daily Stormer is taken down, but the history of leftist tactics show that the target universe will expand dramatically and it will not be long before efforts are directed, as they are now for advertisers, at mainstream conservative and right-of-center websites….

Companies like Cloudfare and others who provide internet infrastrucure will come under increasing pressure, and it won’t be limited to the Storm Fronts of the world. We know from history that the “hate” label is broadly applied for political purposes, and will be used only against right-of-center websites.

Being cut off from domain registrars and other aspects of the internet backbone is something we expect from totalitarian governments. Now that power is in the control of almost-uniformly left-wing corporate managers.

Don’t underestimate the impact the politicization of Amazon’s cloud service would have both on internet freedom and on Amazon itself. The cloud service accounts for essentially all of Amazon’s operating income:

Amazon raked in fourth quarter earnings and sales as the company took retail share to handily top estimates. Yet, operating income for its e-commerce units in U.S. and international were well below Amazon Web Services.

The company said net income for the fourth quarter was $1.9 billion, or $3.75 a share, on revenue of $60.5 billion, up 38 percent from a year ago. The fourth quarter earnings got a boost from a tax benefit of $789 million….

While the numbers from Amazon’s e-commerce operations were impressive, the cash cow remains Amazon Web Services. Consider:

  • Amazon’s North America e-commerce business delivered fourth quarter operating income of $1.69 billion on revenue of $37.3 billion.
  • International e-commerce sales were $18.04 billion with a operating loss of $919 million.
  • AWS had operating income of $1.35 billion for the fourth quarter with sales of $5.11 billion.
  • For the year, Amazon’s international e-commerce operating losses eclipsed the company’s North American operating profit. AWS had 2017 operating income of $4.33 billion on sales of $17.46 billion.

In other words, on an annual basis all of Amazon’s operating income derives from AWS.

The actions of these Amazon employees reveal a truth: Leftist politics have infused the tech giants on whom we rely for internet access and essential computing services. It is only a matter of time before the employees at places such as Amazon use that leverage.

In fact, one could argue it’s already happening.


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Also check out maxine waters latest hate filled rant telling supporters to chase out any admin person they see in any public setting.

Anyway, from my brother when I sent him a note about Scott Adams telling conservatives not to sit on the sidelines but to get out and vote.

“Maybe a bad analogy but yeah, I’m concerned.

Andrew Jackson was a Dem president. When the Dems decided they didn’t want Indians in America we got the Trail of Tears.

When Dems decided they didn’t want Blacks in America, we got the Klan.

When Dem president FDR decided he didn’t want Japanese in America we got internment camps.

Now that Dems don’t want white conservatives in America … well, what do you think?”

He noted that former CA director Gen. Michael Hayden had also compared the president to Hitler and his supporters to Nazis.

“I’m not a Republican and I don’t vote,” he said.

“But because I’ve been labeled as a Trump supporter … I’ve stopped appearing in public … because of the physical danger.”

If a “Blue Wave” appeared in November, and Democrats won the U.S. House and impeached the president, “I think it would be a dangerous situation for Trump supporters, wouldn’t you?” Adams observed.

“And I’m feeling like the best reason for Republicans to vote is they’re coming for you next. And they’re not hiding it. They’re coming for Trump right now, but they’re making it pretty clear they’re coming for Trump supporters next,” he said.

    Incidentally, that’s Adams both criticizing the opponent’s messaging while trying his hand at messaging of his own (save yourselves!). Bottom line: when push comes to shove, most of the voters do not like flirting with outright anarchy. This cannot fail to have an impact.

    maxmillion in reply to 4fun. | June 25, 2018 at 11:55 am

    “Now that Dems don’t want white conservatives in America … well, what do you think?””

    They can try all they want but they aren’t going to be able to eliminate the 70%. They’ll only succeed in getting them ticked off.

They’re trying to de-platform people from restaurants and movie theaters, so this is hardly a surprise. As I do not see any avenue for doing anything about it, where does that leave everyone? If it is a call for outrage, I am tapped out.

    Tom Servo in reply to JBourque. | June 24, 2018 at 9:06 pm

    They are acting in haste, our side can consider and respond at leisure. It may be time to crank up the old trust busting legislation and do what needs to be done to bust up the tech giants.

Oh yeah, a meme I saw recently.

“If democrats are treating you like this when you’re armed to the hilt, imagine how bad it’ll get when they take away all your guns”.

    I’ve seen “Imagine how bad it will be when they are back in charge.” There are probably 20 different versions by now. That is the Internet for you, for good or ill.

    Sometimes voters vote just to be left alone for a little while.

What, three leftist activist Amazon employees speak for the rest.


In any event, for his sin in corrupting the Washington Post, bezos deserves any misery that comes his way politically.

    Massinsanity in reply to | June 24, 2018 at 10:18 pm

    WaPo was corrupted long before Bezos bought it.

      The Friendly Grizzly in reply to Massinsanity. | June 25, 2018 at 8:05 am

      If I may add this: not just that, but Bezos is a smart businessman. The Post continues being this way under his ownership because it attracts the same audience base as before. Eyeballs on pages means ad revenue. I daresay that Bezos may not even look at the Post.

notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | June 24, 2018 at 8:16 pm

Amazon makes me think of Zzzz Best Carpet

Whoa, no “American companies can do as they see fit” disclaimer? That means someone is super duper Mr. Rogers annoyed with being deplatformed. (HANDPUPPET KITTEN IS FIT TO BE TIED!)

Well, anyho. Anyone up for a game of cricket and some tea?

If that isn’t bad enough …

Let’s review some key developments. For most of this year, the Pentagon has been taking heat over its plan to choose a single cloud computing provider and give that company a long contract. The winner would control all military cloud computing for as long as 10 years. This is a bad idea for many reasons.

It would put all Defense Department data in the hands of one company, …

… that might drop them when their employees have a whim.

So, this is what it looks like when colleges graduate SJW types to the corporate world? Wonder if Amazon scholar-shipped any of their employees or otherwise financed their social / political activism in college?

Walmart and d/c Amazon Prime

Massinsanity | June 24, 2018 at 10:22 pm

And yet the MSM and Dems in Congress prattle on about the threat of “Net Neutrality”. As if AT&T, Verizon, etc have incentive to control/limit content available to American consumers.

Which group poses more of a threat to Internet freedom… the carriers or FB/GOOG/AMZN/TWTR with their left wing activism?

There are dozens of other IaaS and PaaS cloud providers. If AWS wants to deprive themselves of that business, that business has many other places to go.

    gonzotx in reply to daniel_ream. | June 24, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    Good to know

      BierceAmbrose in reply to gonzotx. | June 24, 2018 at 11:40 pm

      Oh, the people who sell colud-based business operations services mostly host themselves on not the folks you’ve hard of: Amazon, Google, Microsoft. Even Netflix put a technology wrapper around their famous use of AWS, to make it reliable and robust enough to … stream movies on the internet. They proudly promoted how they did this.

      The folks who sell “cloud” software to run a business on host on people like NTT.

They have no fear of consequences for their thug behavior. It will continue until they do.

Surly some brainiac conservative can make a new google with investors of conservative mindset

War is coming, this must be what the pre civil war felt like

    healthguyfsu in reply to gonzotx. | June 24, 2018 at 11:26 pm

    Google has market share and use precedent on its side. It’s not impossible, but it’s not like Microsoft hasn’t tried hard to break into their share and failed several times.

BierceAmbrose | June 24, 2018 at 11:26 pm

So… AWS technical availability commitment is approximately: “Whatever we feel like.” It turns out that likewise, their legal, business-practice commitment is likewise approximately: “Whatever we feel like.”

This is my shocked face.

It does make you wonder why do business with them at all.

I wonder if an employee petition was circulated to demand that Amazon sever ties with the CIA? Even if that were the case, that’s one headline you won’t be seeing in the WaPo.

If Amazon decides to stop selling law enforcement the tech it needs, it seems to me that the solution is pretty simple: eminent domain. Take it for public use and pay just compensation, i.e. the same price they’ve been paying.

    I try to convince myself that you’re being reasonable and this is my reward…

    Amazon can do a lot more damage if it wants to, so why court it?

      Milhouse in reply to JBourque. | June 25, 2018 at 6:41 am

      Please explain what is unreasonable about this. If law enforcement needs something and the supplier refuses to sell, that’s what eminent domain is for. The constitution requires just compensation; the same price that the supplier was charging until now is surely enough.

        txvet2 in reply to Milhouse. | June 25, 2018 at 9:24 am

        Just off the top of my head, I can think of a couple of reasons why they wouldn’t want to use “eminent domain”, for much the same reasons that Sanders wouldn’t want to force that two-bit restaurant to fix her dinner. I’m pretty sure a competent attorney could think of a few more.

          Milhouse in reply to txvet2. | June 27, 2018 at 4:44 pm

          Amazon isn’t “fixing” anything, it’s selling a finished product. All buyers get the same thing, so there’s no need to worry about that sort of sabotage.

Remember the good old days, when people tried to convince us that Silicon Valley was a hotbed of libertarianism? LOL

The left rewards you if you behave like a snowflake. They punish you if you resist them. Which behavior do they want you to display?

The left reverses the meaning of words — tolerance, hate, mean-spirited,racism, Affordable Care Act, etc. So, they call their actions “resistance?” They are ATTACKING resistance – resistance to their totalitarian rule.

Since the left has been working for decades (perhaps over a century) to dumb down the serfs that they need as modern day slaves, there are still too many people who can think and communicate. Since they are failing despite of all their efforts, and they have no arguments or logic behind their plan (it only benefits the ruling class), they are becoming more open with their violence. The KKK is back–old tactics, same Party, new agenda. Only now, the FBI is part of the New KKK. The shift is underway from a subversive war to open warfare.

Thank God for the failed Net Neutrality (another name reversal) and the failed attacks on the 2nd Amendment. Thank God for local Police. Thank God for the POTUS whom the left hates.

    Latus Dextro in reply to TX-rifraph. | June 27, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    ‘Hats-off’ to you riffraph. Few people appear to recognise the widespread hijacking of language. From complete redefinition and meaning inversion, to meaninglessness. The UN and its appendages are the doyens of the Alinsky commandment, ‘Control the language, you control the people.’ The low wattage intellect of the MSM peddle words in the vernacular. Unwittingly or otherwise, they desert the canons of journalism and abet the confusion.

ultraskeptic | June 25, 2018 at 9:11 am

This could be a huge opportunity for capitalism to reassert itself in the electronic marketplace. Amazon now dominates, but if enough of us move to competing platforms (and there are such things, though few people seem to know about them), then Amazon will no longer monopolize this medium of exchange, and that should actually be good for our economy and our country. After all, isn’t competition what we claim to value?

healthguyfsu | June 25, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Aren’t there anti-trust laws against these monopolies?

Close The Fed | June 25, 2018 at 1:16 pm

Palantir’s CEO is Alex Karp. Karp was/is a neo-marxist. During the 2016 campaign, while speaking to employees at a company meeting, he said he “admires nothing about the guy [Trump].”

Trump has great kids. Karp is single, “dates heavily and never marries,” and has no kids that I’m aware of. He has also said the U.S. govt. has never asked Palantir to create a Muslim database and if asked, Palantir wouldn’t do it.

So, let’s see: Palantir makes money from the U.S. govt. helping provide tools for ever greater database analysis for security, but the one OBVIOUS indicator of terrorism, Palantir’s chief wants to take off the table.

So, this is a money maker for Palantir: we don’t do the OBVIOUS thing to thwart terror, so we have more of it, and more demand for Palantir’s services.

So if Amazon cuts off Palantir, I say, “Pot, meet Kettle.”

Thiel should have greater intellectual courage than to go along with the idea a company he is so tied with, wouldn’t create a muslim database. Common sense out the window; political correctness thank you for the suicide pact.

Excellent reporting Prof Jacobson. Lawful censorship and coercion by our internet giants is pervasive and yet nimbly kept under the radar. I suggest 3 tactics in response. One, respond to these incidents with demands to regulate the Amazon types as utilities. Two, organize a shareholder association for Amazon and others; use it to demand due process rights for customers who are shareholders (and buy a share of stock). Three, find and stoke intersectional controversies within the hives at Amazon and elsewhere so as to turn these activists on themselves – surely there is an LGBTQXYZ person somewhere who is adversely affected when these power plays are made.