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Activists Protesting Amazon's ICE Ties Disrupt AWS Summit New York

'I'm more than willing to have a conversation, but maybe they should let me finish first,' Amazon.com chief technology officer Werner Vogels said after protestors interrupted his keynote address multiple times

Activists protesting Amazon’s ties to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) disrupted chief technology officer Werner Vogels’ keynote address multiple times at an Amazon Web Services conference in New York City this morning.

The protesters stood up in different parts of the audience at different points of Vogels’ presentation at the AWS Summit New York at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center before each were successively escorted out by security.

“Cut ties to ICE,” some of the protesters shouted.

A few of the protesters played audio recordings, with one woman saying conference-goers were hearing the voices of immigrant children separated from their families under a controversial practice by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the U.S. border with Mexico.

Vogels, meanwhile, paused briefly during the disruptions, but was able to continue.

"I'm more than willing to have a conversation, but maybe they should let me finish first,” Vogels said.

"We'll all get our voices heard," he said at another point.

New York’s WABC-TV (Ch. 7) reported that hundreds of immigrant rights protestors had blocked traffic near the convention center, briefly shutting down 11th Avenue at 34th Street.

The ABC affiliate said groups including Make the Road NY and New York Communities for Change claim that Amazon's data collection and cloud computing services are being used to help the White House crack down on immigrants. They called on AWS to sever contracts with Palo Alto, Calif.-based software firm Palantir Technologies and other companies, which they said provide technology services to ICE and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, WABC-TV reported.

In a statement, AWS responded, “As we've said many times and continue to believe strongly, companies and government organizations need to use existing and new technology responsibly and lawfully.”

“There is clearly a need for more clarity from governments on what is acceptable use of AI (artificial intelligence) and ramifications for its misuse, and we’ve provided a proposed legislative framework for this,” an AWS spokesperson said. “We remain eager for the government to provide this additional clarity and legislation, and will continue to offer our ideas and specific suggestions.”

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