Amazon buying thermal cameras from blacklisted firm to scan workers: report

Amazon buying thermal cameras from blacklisted firm to scan workers: report
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Amazon has turned to a firm blacklisted by the U.S. government for allegedly helping the Chinese government oppress minorities to produce thermal cameras for the online retail giant as it seeks to send employees back to work.

According to Reuters, Amazon has ordered about 1,500 thermal cameras from Dahua, a Chinese tech firm that last fall was added to the Commerce Department's list of companies banned from doing business with the federal government.

The purchase is not illegal, as the firm is only blacklisted from doing business with the federal government, the news service noted, adding that many U.S. companies have avoided doing business with entities on the Commerce Department's list.


The Commerce Department said last fall that the blacklisted companies "have been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups."

The thermal devices will reportedly be used to screen Amazon employees for potential coronavirus symptoms.

Amazon representatives declined to comment to Reuters on the sale.

"We implemented daily temperature checks in our operations locations as an additional preventative measure to support the health and safety of our employees, who continue to provide a critical service in our communities. We are now implementing the use of thermal imagers from multiple manufacturers for temperature screening to create a more streamlined experience for our employees," the company said in a statement to The Hill. "None of this equipment has network connectivity, and no personal identifiable information will be visible, collected, or stored."

The development comes as Amazon has struggled to overcome worker concerns about the safety of its facilities amid the coronavirus outbreak, which has sickened hundreds of thousands across the U.S. and at least dozens of Amazon workers. The pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home efforts implemented to pandemic have resulted in a surge in online shopping.