According to a new report from media outlets, Amazon is aiming to increase its in-house moderation staff for Amazon Web Services. According to the article, Amazon is working on a proactive threat monitoring capability within AWS that would look for illegal content on AWS servers and delete it before customers notice it.
When contacted for response, Amazon did not confirm or reject the report’s authenticity, but did state that it does not intend to pre-review material before it is published on the marketplace. “This team (like most AWS teams) will continue to develop as AWS expands,” a spokesman said in a statement.
AWS has long had an Acceptable Use Policy that prohibits the service from being used for computer intrusions, spam, or the advocacy of violence or other crimes. However, enforcement of those conditions has been primarily reactive, with external user reports frequently being used to discover illegal content. While the regulation itself will not change, AWS will be placed in the same category as big platforms such as Facebook and YouTube due to the strong enforcement strategy.
Terrorism experts have previously advocated on hosting platforms to take a more aggressive approach, with one essay in 2019 particularly targeting Amazon. “Companies must proactively check what is on their platforms to ensure they are not unintentionally hosting it,” the editorial states, rather than waiting for it to be exposed by outsiders.
Apple recently revealed a contentious method to proactively search for child abuse pictures in iCloud photographs, and this move follows in their footsteps.
The change toward proactive moderation is expected to stoke conservative worries about AWS censorship, which began when Amazon abruptly stopped hosting Parler after the company failed to delete a spate of violent threats. Following the ruling, Parler filed a lawsuit against Amazon, but it was unsuccessful in court.
Some parts of that change appear to have already begun. According to Reuters, Amazon pulled down an ISIS-linked website earlier this week after following a trail left by an offshoot group’s app, which was not housed on the service.
It’s part of CEO Andy Jassy’s larger recruiting effort, since he was formerly in charge of AWS. Jassy intends to add up to 55,000 new workers in tech and corporate jobs, including a substantial expansion of Project Kuiper, the company’s satellite internet aspirations.