Amazon: Putting Eyes on Humans

February 17, 2021

Amazon may have a new driver at the controls of the Bezos bulldozer, but the big orange machine keeps pushing monitoring technology. “Amazon’s Driver Monitoring App Is an Invasive Nightmare” does not like the system the online bookstore uses to keep an eye on human delivery drivers. The write up states:

Mentor is made by eDriving, which describes the app on its website as a “smartphone-based solution that collects and analyzes driver behaviors most predictive of crash risk and helps remediate risky behavior by providing engaging, interactive micro-training modules delivered directly to the driver in the smartphone app.”

From my tumble down shack in rural Kentucky, the Bezos bulldozer seems to be using technology from an outfit called eDriving. There are several options available to the online bookstore. Amazon can continue to pay eDriving. Amazon can clone the system. Amazon can acquire the company, people, or technology.

Based on my on-going research into Amazon’s surveillance capabilities, the enhanced cameras, the online hook to the AWS mothership, and the use of third-parties to nudge monitoring forward is still in its early days. Amazon moves slowly and in a low profile way. Most law enforcement and intelligence organizations observe Amazon the way a tourist does a turtle in the Galapagos: Check out where the turtle is after breakfast and then note that the darned thing moved behind a rock a few fee away by noon. No big deal. Turtles move, right? Turtles are not gazelles, right?

Several observations:

  1. Amazon chugs along in a sprightly manner behind the curtain separating public use of a system like Mentor
  2. Amazon time makes it difficult for some observers to note significant change in a system or technology
  3. The trick to figuring out where Amazon is headed in surveillance systems is to step back and observe the suite of systems.

What does one learn?

How about Amazon as the plumbing for many of the widely used policeware and intelware systems? Who knew that Palantir Technologies is a good Amazon customer? Maybe not IBM which inked a deal with the chipper Denver based “ride ‘em cowboy” policeware firm.

How useful would Amazon’s monitoring technology be if connected to a Palantir content intake system? My guess is that it would be quite useful, and it would require the Amazon cloud to work. What’s that mean for cloud competitors like Google, IBM, and Microsoft?

Amazon’s policeware and intelware approach is a lock in dream. Where could a Mentor-type system be useful to investigators?

Sorry. I can’t think of a single use case. Ho ho ho.

Stephen E Arnold, February 17, 2021

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