Earlier this month, amid concern from workers about their safety at its warehouses, Amazon announced that it would provide them with face masks and conduct temperature checks via thermal cameras.
To pull that off, Amazon spent $10 million on 1,500 cameras from a Chinese company that was blacklisted by the US for its alleged involvement in China's effort to detain and harass Uighurs and Muslim minorities, Reuters reports.
The company in question, Zhejiang Dahua Technology, denies any wrongdoing.
But it was one of 28 Chinese organizations the US Commerce Department added to its "entity list" in October 2019, restricting how those companies can do business with US firms.
According to Reuters, Amazon's purchase "is legal because the rules control US government contract awards and exports to blacklisted firms, but they do not stop sales to the private sector."
Amazon did not confirm the purchase, but said it was using thermal cameras from "multiple" companies, not just Dahua, which reportedly includes Infrared Cameras Inc and Flir, Reuters reports.
About 500 of the cameras will be used in the US.
Of note is that the Dahua cameras can snap photos of people whose temperatures they're monitoring and then use facial-recognition tech to match images later.
Amazon says it's not using facial-recognition tech on its cameras.
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Amazon has implemented thermal imaging technology before.
According to Business Insider, which spoke to five people with knowledge of the matter and who saw documents of these tools, Whole Foods uses a heat map tool to monitor whether workers at particular stores might be unionizing.
It rates scores based on employee “loyalty," turnover, racial diversity, “tipline” calls to HR and proximity to a union office, and tracks economic and demographic information such as unemployment rates and the number of families living below the poverty line.