WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today was joined by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Co-Chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), in calling on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to detail the nature of his company’s dealings with Dahua Technology Co., a Chinese company that has reportedly developed facial recognition software to recognize and report detection of Uyghur Muslims to Chinese authorities, facilitating the Chinese government’s ongoing genocide and other crimes against humanity against the Uyghur people.
“These reports are extremely disturbing, and show that the comprehensive surveillance system that Chinese authorities have deployed against the Uyghurs is just as bad as we had feared, if not worse,” the Senators wrote, citing troubling software features including the “Real-time Uyghur Warnings” that report individuals with specified facial traits to Chinese security forces immediately.
The Senators also raised questions concerning Mr. Bezos’ awareness of Dahua Technology’s status on the Commerce Department’s Entity List when his company entered into negotiations and agreed to a $10 million contract with the Chinese company as well as Amazon’s criteria to determine when to terminate a business relationship with an entity that engages in human rights violations.
“While buying equipment from Dahua Technology is not illegal, it does raise several questions for you as the Chief Executive of Amazon,” the Senators added. “If these allegations against Dahua are true, it would mean that Amazon willfully ignored guidance from the United States government and purchased equipment from an entity-listed company that is complicit in China’s atrocities against the Uyghurs.”
Find a copy of the letter HERE and below.
Dear Mr. Bezos,
We write today regarding the concerning reports that DahuaTechnology Co, a Chinese business that is designated on the United States Department of Commerce Entity List and with which Amazon has entered into several troubling contracts with, has developed software to provide instant Uyghur detection to Chinese police and authorities using their facial recognition programs.
As you know, since 2014 the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has instituted an Orwellian system of surveillance, intimidation, and mass internment of Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and members of other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang. Reports suggest that more than 1,000,000 Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims have been arbitrarily detained and forced into “political re-education” camps, where they are denied civil and political rights, such as the freedoms of expression, religion, movement, and a fair trial. Mounting evidence points to gross human rights violations occurring within these camps, including forced political indoctrination, torture, beatings, food deprivations, and other egregious abuses. Additionally, the CCP has forced many Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims into labor at nearby factories, either while in detention or after release under threat of being sent back into the camps. Recently, the State Department declared that the Chinese government is committing genocide and crimes against humanity against the Uyghur population.
According to a joint report released this week by the Los Angeles Times and IPVM, Dahua Technology inadvertently revealed the source code for the Uyghur detecting software on its product support portal, allowing researchers to investigate the software’s code - where they found many troubling allegations.
Specifically, in the code for Dahua’s “Smart Police Heart of City” program – which is advertised as having early warning capabilities – there are several feature codes referencing “Real-time Uyghur Warnings”, an option that when enabled would instantly report a person the facial recognition system believes is a Uyghur to the police. In another, Dahua’s “Sharp Eyes” project had a category listed as “Uyghurs with hidden terrorist inclinations”. Further, it was revealed in November 2020 that Dahua’s publicly available Software Development Kit (SDK) had the ability to filter a code for“EM_NATION_TYPE_UYGUR = 1.” All of these allegations are extremely disturbing, and shows that the systemic surveillance system in China perpetrated against the Uyghurs is just as bad as previously thought to be, if not worse.
Last year, Amazon entered a deal reportedly worth $10 million to buy 1,500 cameras from Dahua Technology Co, even though the Commerce Department had already labeled Dahua as being“involved, or to pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved, in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.” If these allegations against Dahua are legitimate, and which they certainly seem to be, it would mean that Amazon willfully ignored guidance from the United States government and purchased equipment from an entity-listed company that is not only complicit in China’s genocide against the Uyghurs, but actively aiding and abetting it.
While buying equipment from Dahua Technology is not illegal, it does raise several questions for you as Chief Executive of Amazon. Specifically;
1) Were you aware of that Dahua Technology was on the Commerce Department’s Entity List when your company entered negotiations with and subsequently agreed to a $10 million contract with them? When were you aware of the Entity List designation? Did it factor into any of your deliberations of who to source your equipment from?
2) Were you aware of the allegations against DahuaTechnology and its part in China’s state surveillance systems against the Uyghurs? When were you aware of them?
3) How many contracts does Amazon have with DahuaTechnology? How many have been completed? Are any of them still pending?
4) After the November 2020 allegations that there was source code found specifically related to surveilling Uyghurs in its SDK, did Amazon have any pending contracts with Dahua? Were any contracts completed after this information came to light?
5) Does Amazon plan on continuing to source equipment from Dahua Technology in the future?
We look forward to your response. Thank you.