Amazon Flex is a "gig economy" delivery system that maintains the pretence that drivers are independent contractors, even as their motions are scripted to a fine degree by an app whose control over them exceeds that of any boss in history.

As with all gig economy work, the "independent contractor" wheeze is just a ruse to shift the risks and costs of being an employer onto the workforce, without any of the independence that real freelancers enjoy.


Amazon Flex drivers are a "chickenized" workforce, whose pay is determined by a black-box algorithm tuned to keep them on the brink of financial ruin (which is why Flex drivers have started HIDING THEIR PHONES IN TREES):

Which is why Amazon maintains an extensive spy network of "analysts" who infiltrate its drivers' private Facebook groups, a fact we discovered when Amazon's internal counterintelligence system leaked to Motherboard's Lauren Gurley and Joseph Cox.


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Specifically, Amazon's spooks gather data on efforts to form unions or attract attention from the press, lawmakers and regulators.

That may seem like garden-variety (illegal) union-busting (and it is), but think about this in light of the "independent contractor" fiction.


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According to Amazon, each of these drivers is a "small business" in its supply chain, like the sellers who put products in the Amazon Marketplace or the publishers who supply books for the Kindle.

Amazon's intelligence op is a mass surveillance effort TARGETING SMALL BUSINESSES WHO SELL IT SERVICES. If we are to believe that drivers are independent contractors, then this is like Amazon sending out spies to infiltrate every publisher in America.


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Or putting covert informants in the factories of all its suppliers to keep it apprised of any negative publicity that might attend its efforts to squeeze them for higher discounts.

This is clearly not an isolated incident: surveillance of workers is baked into its DNA. This is, after all, the company that maintains a predictive, algorithmic "heat-map" of labor unrest in Whole Foods stores:


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And it's also the company that - just this week - advertised for "intelligence analysts" with military backgrounds to monitor the internet for signs of labor organizing, activist opposition, and "hostile" lawmakers and regulators.


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@pluralistic This is why self-sovereign identity is so important, and why our digital selves should be separated from content hosts.

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