Amazon: A New Revenue Stream Begins to Flow

May 23, 2018

Amazon is a bit of an exception when compared to Facebook and Google. In general, Amazon’s business has cruised along without eliciting the criticism which swarms around Facebook.

Yesterday I had an experience which revealed how strongly some companies feel that Amazon is in some way sacrosanct. There is an outfit which Jessica B., one of the investigative journalists who worked for me before I retired, used PRUnderground to put out news releases about my books, speeches, and my various projects. One of the young people who help me drafted a 500 word news release about one of the research findings which I will present at the upcoming Telestrategies ISS conference in Prague. The attendees will be active law enforcement, intelligence, and security professionals. The release was a summary of one of the new services which Amazon has begun to introduce.

The PRUnderground professionals informed me that what the person wrote and submitted for release on June 5 was not permissible. The angle was that PR about another company was not PR. Amazon is probably happy that my news release is not news. (We also encountered another instance of censorship with this story. The LinkedIn system blocked this write up, presumably because the writer who did the story was not treating Microsoft in a proper manner. Interesting.)

I read “Amazon Is Selling Facial Recognition to Law Enforcement for a Fistful of Dollars.” The source is the Washington Post which may be a project favored by Jeff Bezos, the big Amazonian.

Several observations:

I have been reporting about Chinese and Israeli facial recognition systems in my weekly DarkCyber videos. I generally prefer to report about non US companies, but here is the Washington Post reporting about facial recognition sold to government entities. I wonder if the professionals at PRUnderground would have run a news release about the story. I suppose I could ask, but I think I will conserve my energy for my research and analysis of what some youngsters call the “actual factual.”

What happens if one combines the story about Rekognition, which has been around since 2015 when I heard about the system with the information which I will present in my “Deanonymizing Digital Currency Transactions”?

My hunch is that some stock market types, a handful of specialist vendors serving the LE and intel communities, and a few people in the US government who have attended my lectures this year might find the two items of significant interest.

On June 5, 2018, I will include some of the information in the DarkCyber released coincident with my speeches in Prague.

In the meantime, Amazon is an interesting company and one that is positioned to disrupt a reasonably large market for investigative tools and services. To give one example, what if the crowd facial recognition feature is cross correlated with purchase history, banking information, and other data housed by Amazon?

Think about that idea. Think about cross correlation in real time of multiple streams of data. I did.

I won’t be doing a PRUnderground release. I will just plug along, content in the knowledge that the Washington Post three years after Rekognition moved from idea to buggy beta tuned into what I think is now old news.

My hunch is that this item will not appear in my LinkedIn feed either. The shaping of fact based information must continue.

Perhaps I will ask Alexa. “Why is Amazon pushing so hard to land a large Department of Defense contract?” and “Why is Amazon dipping its Bezos sized toe into the law enforcement services market?”

I will share my hypothesis with the 200 or 300 LE and intel professionals who attend my two lectures. I will be offering for fee webinars and in person training on this subject later this year. Who knows? I might even write a short analytic white paper.

Publicity on LinkedIn and PRUnderground. Probably unlikely.

Stephen E Arnold, May 23, 2018


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