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In the place where music, technology and politics converge, there is … discord. A group of more than 380 musicians – including well-known indie artists such as Ted Leo, Deerhoof, Damon & Naomi, Zola Jesus, Downtown Boys and Sheer Mag – signed an open letter on Thursday to sever all business ties with Amazon gigantic subsidiary Amazon Web Services (AWS).
The letter, organized in part by the activist group Fight For The Future and the public launch of No Music For ICE was inspired by AWS's plans for a music festival called Intersect. The letter requires AWS to terminate all contracts with independent business and government agencies, such as the Immigration and Customs Authority and the Customs and Border Protection Agency, which allegedly committed human rights violations. It also demands that Amazon stop working on "projects that promote racial detection and discrimination," such as facial recognition technology. (One form of this technology has been widely used in China, where it is reportedly being used to attack members of the Uighur community and arrest suspects outside of concerts.) The Amazon-to-ICE connection is through the database services, Palantir Data analysis, provided company that has contracts with the agency. "We will not allow Amazon to use our creativity to promote its brand while allowing attacks on immigrants, color communities, workers and the local economy, and we call upon all artists who believe in fundamental rights and human dignity to join us to join. " read.
Today's letter comes a week after Black Madonna, a highly regarded and internationally acclaimed DJ, expressed her surprise at Amazon's involvement in a festival for which she had been booked. "If you were shocked, I would play for Amazon, well that makes us two," she wrote on Twitter. Black Madonna claimed that the ownership of the festival, scheduled to take place on December 6 and 7 in Las Vegas, had not been clarified at the time the signing of the signing contract took place. After the DJ had burned "some bridges," she wrote, AWS agreed to release her from the contract.
Regardless, the festival's current lineup is massive, including mainstream acts such as Foo Fighters, Spoon and Beck, acclaimed and acclaimed artists such as Kacey Musgraves, Brandi Carlile and Thundercat, and the younger talents Japanese Breakfast, Jpegmafia and Sudan Archives ,
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on the letter or confirmed whether one of the intended performers had terminated his contract or not since its release.
The letter is the latest public challenge for technology companies' relationships with agencies such as ICE and CBP. Last year, 650 employees of the enterprise software company Salesforce asked CEO Marc Benioff to terminate his contract with CBP. In August, more than 1,000 Google employees did the same. Last July, Amazon Web Services protested the same matter even outside the Javits Center in New York, where it held its AWS summit.
Amazon Web Services sees itself as a "cloud platform" that provides the infrastructure – the highway section of the information superhighway – to things like the music you hear when you click Spotify, the program you watch on Netflix , or the airline tickets you want to buy from Expedia. (Spotify is well on the way to migrating to Google's cloud platform.) However, due to the size of AWS, it is essentially a backbone – or at least a healthy number of vertebrae – supporting the Internet. This includes the databases of agencies such as the Transportation Security Administration and CBP. In 2018, the Synergy research group rated the company's market share as "in its own league". As of the last fiscal quarter, AWS was more valuable to Amazon than its retail segment and posted over $ 600 million in net income from its North American Amazon.com.