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May 22, 2019

Amazon facial recognition shareholder proposals are voted down

Sparks fly at Amazon's annual general meeting

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Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN.O) shareholders rejected a large slate of proposals at the company’s annual meeting on Wednesday, including ones that would have restricted the use of controversial facial recognition technology.

Proposals calling for Amazon to end the sale of its Rekognition technology to governments and study its potential risks were defeated by a majority of voters, Amazon said. Civil liberties groups have been critical of the technology, citing the possibility it could be abused.

Shareholders also voted down a proposal submitted by employees, and supported by more than 7,600 of them in an open letter, that called on the company to detail its strategy for coping with climate change and reducing its use of fossil fuels blamed for contributing to a warming Earth.

That proposal generated a dramatic moment during the meeting in Seattle, when dozens of employees and shareholders, many wearing white, stood up in support of the speaker advocating for the proposal. Emily Cunningham, an Amazon employee, asked for the opportunity to address her concerns directly to Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos but was denied.

The company also elected its entire proposed slate of directors. Vote totals will be made available in a regulatory filing on Friday, Amazon said.