Earlier this month, Amazon started installing thermal cameras at its warehouses to speed up screening for workers who could be infected with the coronavirus. In comparison to the earlier adopted technique which required using forehead thermometers, this is a much faster and contact-free way of scanning for fevers.
Reuters has reported that Amazon bought some of these cameras from Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co Ltd, a China-based company that has been blacklisted by the U.S. over allegations that it aided China in the detainment of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. In a deal valued at $10 million, the Chinese company shipped 1,500 cameras to Amazon, out of which, at least 500 would be used in the U.S.
The procurement is legal, as rules limit blacklisted firms from getting the U.S. government contracts and imports; however, the private sector can purchase equipment from them. These transactions carry a "red flag", and the U.S. companies are recommended to proceed with caution. While the Seattle firm declined to confirm the purchase, it reiterated that the acquired hardware complied with relevant laws. It also said that temperature checks were to “support the health and safety of our employees, who continue to provide a critical service in our communities.”
Amazon stated that thermal imaging cameras have been obtained from multiple manufacturers, which include Infrared Cameras Inc, and FLIR.