New biometric payment systems such as Amazon One are being marketed as customer-convenience tools. But some people warn the technology poses significant threats to privacy and freedom. Actor Russell Brand is among those sounding alarms about Amazon One, now offered in Whole Foods stores in several states.
In a YouTube video titled “It’s Happening,” the comedian warns about the “nefarious nature of Big Tech,” saying, “Bye, bye freedom.”
With Amazon One, shoppers can register the palm of their hand and then scan it for contactless payment. Because the biometric data that’s collected is stored in the cloud, some experts worry how it might be tracked and used.
Russell Brand: ‘It’s Convenient Having an Apocalypse’
In his video, Russell Brand, 47, warns that consumers have been “drugged with convenience” and don’t realize “the concept of liberty” is at stake.
He also suggests Amazon One is sinister. “It’s not like it says literally in the Bible that the mark of the beast will be rendered in the palm of your hand or anything like that,” says Brand. “Don’t worry; just walk face-first into Armageddon without questioning it. It’s convenient having an apocalypse.”
Brand points to Amazon’s “relationships with the police state” and government, saying the company has been “guilty of handing over data without consent before.” Devices such as Alexa personal assistants, Ring doorbell cameras, and now iRobot vacuums collect information, some of which has been shared with law enforcement.
Mocking the palm-payment system, Brand says, “Just give all your data to Amazon and let them give that data to whoever they want. Just wave your hand.” The actor warns that the company might start tracking your political beliefs or even develop a “social credit score.” He asks viewers, “You’re not interested in controlling your own life, are you?”
Body Becomes a ‘Transactional Tool’
Russell Brand isn’t alone in his concerns. Last year, some U.S. senators wrote an open letter to Amazon, nothing that uploading biometric information to the cloud raises “unique security risks.” Some states have informed-consent laws about biometric data, but once it’s collected, information can tracked and linked.
When Amazon One was first introduced, tech writer James Vincent warned it “isn’t a payment technology [but] an identity technology, and one that could give Amazon more reach into your life than ever before.” Palm-scanning is “overkill” for shopping, he adds, meaning it will likely expand into areas such as event venues, offices, airports, and borders.