Breonna Taylor case sparks Amazon Web Services CEO to call for police ‘culture change’

Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy at re:Invent 2018. (Amazon Photo)

Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy, who has been at the center of the debate over the use of Amazon technology by law enforcement, has weighed in on the culture of policing in the wake of the Breonna Taylor case in Louisville, Ky.

In a six-tweet thread, Jassy said the death of Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman who was killed by police in her home on March 13, can’t be let go “with no accountability.” Jassy said defunding police is not the answer and that police need to move from an authoritarian to guardian mindset.

He was reacting to news on Wednesday in which a grand jury neglected to charge any of the officers involved with killing Taylor. One officer was indicted for endangering Taylor’s neighbors by recklessly firing his gun during the raid on her apartment, The New York Times reported.

The decision sparked a new round of nationwide protests on Wednesday night, and Jassy’s reaction on Thursday:

This summer, Amazon imposed a one-year ban on police use of its cloud-based facial recognition technology, called Rekognition, as protests over police brutality surged across the country.

Studies have shown that facial recognition software misidentifies women and people of color more frequently than white men, leading to concerns that the technology will disproportionately impact communities that are already over-surveilled. Amazon disputed the findings of those reports, but a federal study published in December added weight to the concerns of civil rights groups.

Speaking at the June 2019 Code Conference, Jassy said at the time that he was open to federal regulation regarding use of the controversial technology.

Amazon lists facial recognition under its “Our Positions” webpage and says it has proposed guidelines “for effective regulatory frameworks and guardrails that protect individual civil rights and ensures that governments are transparent in their application of the technology.”

Amazon recently spent $24,000 to lobby against a groundbreaking ban in Portland, Ore., prohibiting use of facial recognition in privately-owned places.

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