Last year, the company said it wanted Congress to write rules for the ethical use of facial recognition technology, including Amazon’s Rekognition.suggesting significant changes to U.S. laws. This could be great for many , or this could mostly talk. Amazon has been loudly supporting a federal of $15 an hour. In a blog post in April, the company mentioned (briefly) that it favored increasing the . Amazon wrote this that it would be “actively supporting” a proposed federal bill to legalize marijuana.
Some of these policies could make a real difference in people’s lives. Companies lobby hard for or against laws that are good for their bottom lines. But when they support policies they believe can help everyone, do they devote the same money and muscle to those efforts? (And should they?) My concern is that Amazon may want credit with the public and the policymakers for supporting these laws but won’t put in . Still, it won’tted and sustained work required to have a real impact — except when it directly helps Amazon.
Writing for Vox’s Recode, Emily Stewart recently asked similar questions of all businesses, including the technology giants. But perhaps we should hold the tech superstars to an even United States, might be even more effective at rallying public support and changing the law. Ditto for Facebook’s relentless promotions about its support for revised U.S. regulations.because of their power over our lives and their influence on policymakers and public perception. Pressure from corporations can’t hurt to nudge a Congress that is often gridlocked or slow to . Labor organizations have been pressing for a $15 minimum wage for years. It’s possible that Amazon’s advocacy, and its decision in 2018 to set a $15 wage floor for its employees in the
These companiesfor taking on significant issues, but what matters is that they follow through to the end. Stewart wrote, “Vague gestures from corporations and executives are a way to smooth over real political and social issues and deflect deserved scrutiny.” An episode from Amazon’s past also invites skepticism of its motivations in policy battles. For years, the company loudly proclaimed support for a national in the United States, and Amazon knew that a federal sales tax was most likely a non-starter in Congress. But Amazon’s position helped in its fight against state laws to collect sales taxes on .
A national sales tax never happened. Amazon, about a decade ago, began to reach compromises with states to apply sales taxes. By then, the company had benefited from years of price advantages over conventional retailers. This bit of history shows that what Amazon said was a principled policy position was likelymaneuver. Here are some questions American taxpayers can pose to tech companies speaking up for policy changes: How is the this law? What specific policy suggestions does it have? How much on lobbying for it? Will the company commit to status reports on its policy advocacy and the results?
Amazon’s lobbying disclosures indicate, without many specifics, that minimum wagewith members of Congress. Jodi Seth, a spokeswoman for Amazon, also pointed me to the company’s advertisements and opinion pieces about increasing the minimum wage and said it’s one of the few issues that involves everyone on Amazon’s policy team. I’ll add one more question to my list: Why? No, the honest answer. Radical candor about companies’ motivations for and the public.
For Amazon, why not be frank that increasing the minimum wage might benefit many American workers and Amazon’s business? The company may need to pay more to attract enough high-quality workers and keep them happy, and its competitors may not afford higher wages. Facebook and some other tech companies that are getting behind a national protection law in the United States don’t typically say out loud that they want more lenient rules from Congress to usurp strict laws that some states have passed. I’m making a spreadsheet listing select policy positions big tech companies take. I promise to report back here periodically with what the companies have done. (And please email me with suggestions of policies proposed by tech companies that you’d like to track. Put “policies” in the subject line.)
Before we go …
- Facebook fights with itself: Some employees have been challenging the Facebook bosses for actions they believed helped the stifle online dissent and for removing some pro-Palestinian posts, my colleagues Sheera Frenkel and Mike Isaac report. It’s the latest example of divisions between some who want the company to stand up to oppressive governments and a policy team that handles tricky international relations.
- It’s hard to make a Silicon Valley from scratch: The rest of the World looks at what has gone wrong with Kenya’s effort to build a and a hub for tech companies. “Smart cities are not cure-alls for socioeconomic problems but rather ways to distract citizens from bigger, structural ones,” the article says.
- Khabane Lame, a 21-year-old former factory worker in Italy, has become the fastest-growing video creator on TikTok. My colleagues Jason Horowitz and Taylor Lorenz explain the . (For example, he is horrified by Sour Patch Kid pizza here.)
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