News of Amazon locking out a Smart Home user over hate speech allegations is raising questions about technocratic overreach.
Microsoft engineer, Brandon Jackson, said he was denied access to his smart home devices after Amazon accused him of making racist comments to a delivery driver.
The seven-day lockout took place in late May.
At first, the engineer thought he’d been hacked.
With a process of elimination ruling out the latter, “puzzled” Jackson, rang Amazon’s customer service hotline.
In what he described as “taking a surreal turn,” he ended up talking with an executive.
Rather than answer questions, the Amazon representative interrogated Jackson, asking if he knew why the company had cut off access.
The Microsoft engineer told them he was unsure of the reasons, stating in a recount on Medium, that this was when the executive’s tone became “somewhat accusatory.”
Amazon allegedly informed Jackson that he’d been locked out of his accounts for making racist remarks towards a delivery driver.
He pleaded not guilty.
Trying to clear things up, the engineer provided material that proved he wasn’t home at the time.
This included audio, and video showing nothing more was said than an automated, “Excuse me, can I help you?”
In his defence, Jackson explained, “It’s possible the driver, who was wearing headphones, misinterpreted the message.”
Jackson even added that most of the delivery drivers in the area shared his ethnicity.
The facts fell on deaf ears.
Jackson said his “entire smart home system [was to remain] disabled” until “Amazon ran an internal investigation” – i.e.: questioned the driver.
Writing about the fallout, Jackson said the treatment has made him review a “decade of loyalty” to the brand.
“It was drastic,” he wrote. Adding, “There has to be a more reasonable way of handling such issues, rather than a blanket shutdown of all services.”
Amazon eventually reinstated the services, without comment.
Post-script, Jackson’s alleged experience conjures up potential scenarios of activist overreach.
Power-drunk technocrats shutting down basic services simply because they were triggered by a MAGA hat in the front window, or were jarred by a well-kept, American flag, sitting on an equally well-kept front lawn.
If you think this is a stretch, re-acquaint yourself with Elon Musk’s Twitter Files, or the Durham Report exposing a well-funded campaign to delegitimise – and imprison – a then-sitting United States President.
Deepfake technology, powered by advances in AI, puts the manufacturing of fake hate crimes within an activist’s reach.
Couple this with the Woke culture war’s erosion of “innocent before being proven guilty,” and the threat to an impartial justice system has never been more real.
Being wary of technology and pointing out evidence of its abuse is not just a Luddite’s game.
Amazon shutting out users for perceived crimes, is Amazon punishing users before they’ve even had the chance to prove their innocence.
Worse still, Amazon overreached.
Any tech company suspending habeas corpus is a tech company guilty of suspending the West’s common law tradition.
They – or at least their unnamed executive – took on the role of judge, jury, and executioner.
By rejecting evidence for hearsay, Amazon rejected the fundamental right to due process – as was painfully established through the Magna Carta.
To lean on Edmund Burke’s epic protest to the Sheriffs of Bristol in 1777, who died, and made Amazon king?