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Amazon drivers must consent to biometric monitoring or lose jobs, reports say

Amazon is installing cameras that will confirm drivers' identities with biometrics and monitor drivers for fatigue and unsafe driving.

An Amazon delivery van, with the driver nowhere in sight.

Getty Images

To keep their jobs, Amazon's delivery drivers are required consent to biometric monitoring, according to multiple reports. The monitoring comes from cameras in their vehicles, which will take their photos and track their driving for unsafe behaviors. 

Reuters reported earlier this month that some drivers are quitting over what they see as a violation of privacy. Vice reported Tuesday that it obtained screenshots of the consent form that drivers must sign. The agreement allows Amazon to collect biometric information in the form of photographs in order to verify driver identities, and to monitor drivers' location and movement, "including miles driven, speed, acceleration, braking, turns, and following distance."

"As a condition of delivery packages for Amazon, you consent to the use of Technology," the form reportedly says.

Amazon spokesperson Deborah Bass said the camera program is meant solely as a safety measure.

"We piloted the technology from April to October 2020 on over two million miles of delivery routes and the results produced remarkable driver and community safety improvements -- accidents decreased 48 percent, stop sign violations decreased 20 percent, driving without a seatbelt decreased 60 percent, and distracted driving decreased 45 percent," Bass said. "Don't believe the self-interested critics who claim these cameras are intended for anything other than safety."

Adam Schwartz, staff attorney with civil liberties advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation, criticized the requirement to consent to "faceprinting," or recording images of faces for biometric purposes. 

"When a company says to its staff, 'Give us your biometrics or you're fired,' that's not consent," Schwartz said. "We are disappointed by reports that Amazon is coercing its drivers, on threat of termination, to submit to faceprinting."

A group of five US senators previously expressed concern over the video monitoring, asking Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in an open letter to explain how the company will avoid violating workers' privacy and putting them at risk by adding "unsafe pressure" to their fast-paced jobs.

The cameras, powered by AI company Netradyne, are triggered to record when drivers if they sense high speeds, hard braking, yawning and other potential indicators of danger. They also warn drivers of unsafe behaviors in some instances. The monitoring appears to apply to drivers who don't work directly for Amazon, but instead for delivery hubs that contract with Amazon. 

Critics have said the pace of the job is unmanageable, with drivers expected to deliver hundreds of packages in a 10-hour shift. Some drivers have reported not having time to find a bathroom. The cameras will monitor for drivers who urinate or defecate outdoors.

Tech Industry E-commerce Artificial intelligence (AI) Amazon Biometrics Privacy