Senators ask Amazon about the use of cameras to monitor delivery drivers

Amazon is deploying an AI-powered camera for delivery vans that monitors driver safety issues. Senators on Wednesday asked questions about privacy and security concerns raised by the program.

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A group of five U.S. senators sent an open letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Wednesday asking about Amazon’s use of driver surveillance videos to monitor its delivery van drivers. The program, first reported in February, targets cameras AI powered software manufacturer Netradyne to drivers to report safety concerns. Senators echoed concerns drivers have raised about confidentiality and increased discipline in an already very demanding job.

In the letter, Massachusetts Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren join Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Bernie Sanders of Vermont in congratulating Amazon for wanting to improve driver safety, but added that they feared that the camera program could have the opposite effect. (All except Sanders, who is independent, are Democrats.)

“While Amazon may intend to use Driveri cameras to improve road safety, this monitoring could, in practice, place significant pressure on drivers to speed up on their routes, which may lead to driver fatigue and reduced safety, ”the lawmaker said. wrote.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

Senators asked Bezos for detailed descriptions of how driver video data is stored, viewed and shared, and which third parties can access it. They also asked whether the images would be used as part of Amazon’s discipline system for drivers, and whether contractors who do not work directly for Amazon will also be subject to surveillance.

In previous reports, drivers have said they fear cameras will put more pressure on them to work even faster than they already are and lead to discipline for behaviors that are difficult to avoid under intense time constraints. Sometimes, according to Motherboard, drivers are expected to deliver 400 packages in 10-hour shifts, making it difficult to avoid things like leaving a package in plain view or throwing it over a door. Some drivers said that to keep up with the workload, they felt pressured to urinate or even defecate outside when a bathroom was not available.

The camera system can give audio alerts to drivers when they detect things like distracted driving or passing through stop signs. The system also downloads the video when drivers brake or take too strong turns or cause “excessive G-force”. According to an Amazon video explaining the program, drivers can also turn off the camera while taking breaks. Additionally, the cameras will not provide a live feed or spy on drivers at work.

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