Amazon has begun installing AI-powered cameras that monitor delivery drivers, raising concerns among privacy advocates.
The technology is being imported from the US and is meant to prevent accidents, but campaigners have labeled it “intrusive” and “creepy”.
The e-commerce giant is using two cameras to record footage of its Amazon-branded vans in the UK, one facing the road and the other inside the cabin.
They are intended to detect dangerous behaviour, including sudden braking, speeding and driver distraction, and will send “voice alerts” if they violate these standards.
It is understood that the cameras turn off automatically when the vehicle’s ignition is turned off. Drivers will also receive points for driving safely.
Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, called the deployment “excessive, intrusive and creepy surveillance of workers” and said it should be stopped.
She said: “Amazon has a terrible track record of intensively monitoring its lowest-wage workers using often highly inaccurate Orwellian espionage technologies, and then using that data to its disadvantage.
“This kind of targeted policing could actually risk distracting drivers, let alone demoralize them. It’s bad for worker rights and terrible for privacy in our country.”
It is understood that Amazon will only have access to the internal camera footage only in exceptional circumstances. There is no live video feed available and the cameras will not capture sound.
Since the technology was introduced in the US, there has been a 48% decrease in accidents, according to Amazon. Driving without a seatbelt was also reduced by 60% and distracted driving was also reduced by 75%.
A spokesman for the GMB union said that while it initially had no problem with outward-facing cameras, those in the cockpit were “a huge distraction”.
They added: “Technology already exists to ensure drivers drive safely. We are against cameras being pointed at drivers’ faces every second of every day they are working. This is surveillance, it does not help the safety of the driver.”
An Amazon spokesperson said: “The purpose of introducing this technology is to keep drivers and communities safe, there is no other reason behind that. We have conducted a comprehensive data privacy assessment in accordance with applicable laws.”