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Protesters disrupt the Amazon event on its links with ICE

NEW YORK – Protesters disrupted


Thursday, demonstrating its opposition to the company's ties with entities that impose the Trump administration's crackdown on illegal immigration.

Groups of protesters gathered in front of the Amazon Web Services Summit at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, a free event open to the public. Inside, dozens of protesters interrupted the keynote address by Amazon's chief technology officer, Werner Vogels, five times before being guided.

Mr Vogels declined to comment on the demonstrations.

In an email, a representative from Amazon said, "Governments clearly need more clarity on the acceptable use of [artificial intelligence] misuse, and we have provided a proposed legislative framework for this purpose. We sincerely hope that the government will provide this additional clarification and legislation. "

Microsoft Corp. and Wayfair Inc. have also been the target of protests because of their links to immigration law enforcement.

Last year, Amazon employees called on business leaders to end partnerships with companies working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Last month, Andy Jassy, ​​chief executive of Amazon Web Services, asked the company if Amazon's cloud division was working with ICE. She stated that the company did not reveal the identity of the customers who did not allow her permission. "We will serve the federal government, which will have to use technology responsibly," he said in an interview with journalist Kara Swisher at a Recode conference.

Social and political issues are becoming increasingly important for technology companies as they shape perceptions of reputation and brand.

"Large technology companies play a vital role in our modern economy and, as such, can not help but get lost in important social problems that are often not easy to answer," said Jonathan Gruber. Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist.

Protesters who attended the Amazon event cited media reports that Amazon Web Services provided the underlying technology and infrastructure to several companies working with ICE. According to officials of the administration, the agency is expected to gather thousands of undocumented migrants across the country starting Sunday.

Amazon leaders "choose to be accomplices" in the detention, deportation and death of immigrants, including children, said Angeles Solis, chief organizer of Make the Road New York, One of the groups that organized the event.

"Amazon needs to recognize and see the harm it perpetuates," Solis said, adding that hundreds of protesters were present at the ceremony. The New York Police Department said that it did not provide an estimate of the crowd.

Amazon's chief technical officer, Werner Vogels, was interrupted by protesters in his keynote speech at Thursday's protest.


Sara Castellanos / The Wall Street Journal

Protesters who disrupted Mr. Vogels' two-hour speech on cloud computing broadcast audio clips of children separated from their parents in a border patrol facility obtained by ProPublica last year. Mr Vogels interrupted his presentation for several seconds when protesters shouted slogans such as "sever ties with ICE".

"I'm quite willing to have a conversation, but maybe you should let me finish first," Vogels said at one point.

While companies have the right to make business decisions, consumers, employees and shareholders have the right to challenge these decisions, said Daniel Castro, vice president of the Foundation for Information Technology and Information Technology. of innovation, a think tank based in Washington and composed of representatives of Amazon and other technologies. leaders.

"But it would be unfortunate if doing business with the US government becomes so polarizing that the best tech companies in the US are forced to stay out of the way," Castro said.

Write to Sara Castellanos at sara.castellanos@wsj.com

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