AWS to expand Trust and Safety team amid fight against harmful content

Amazon has denied Reuters' reports of changing "policies or processes"

Amazon has denied reports that it is changing its strategy regarding the removal of harmful content from its cloud infrastructure.

The statement comes days after two sources told Reuters that the tech giant is adopting a stricter stance about removing content that violates its cloud service policies.

However, an AWS spokesperson described Reuters' report as "wrong". 

"AWS Trust & Safety has no plans to change its policies or processes, and the team has always existed," they told IT Pro over the weekend.

"As AWS continues to expand, we expect this team to continue to grow"

3/09/2021: Amazon Web Services (AWS) has said it will take a more proactive approach to prevent its cloud infrastructure from being used to spread harmful content.

The company is set to become more strict about removing content that violates its cloud service policies, including hate speech, violence, child sexual abuse material (CSAM), according to two sources speaking to Reuters.

AWS is in the process of growing its threat-monitoring Trust & Safety team, according to one of the sources. In the last few weeks, the company has been recruiting for a number of roles within the team, including global head of policy and manager positions.

However, the team will not focus on scanning existing content hosted on AWS, but will try to prevent new harmful content from being added, the source said, with the cloud giant also confirming that the Trust & Safety team “does not pre-review content hosted by our customers”.

It's also unclear what precise actions this new team will be taking to limit how much problematic content is hosted on its infrastructure.

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"AWS Trust & Safety works to protect AWS customers, partners, and internet users from bad actors attempting to use our services for abusive or illegal purposes," a spokesperson told the news agency. "When AWS Trust & Safety is made aware of abusive or illegal behaviour on AWS services, they act quickly to investigate and engage with customers to take appropriate actions," AWS said, adding that “as AWS continues to expand, we expect this team to continue to grow".

The reports come six days after the Washington Post found that an Islamic State propaganda website, which openly celebrated the suicide bombing in Kabul that killed 170 people on 26 August, was hosted on AWS infrastructure. The website has since been disabled due to violating AWS’ Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).

“The AWS AUP prohibits the use of our services to threaten, incite, promote, or actively encourage violence, terrorism, or other serious harm. When we receive reports of potential violations of our AUP, we act quickly to investigate and take action to disable prohibited content,” AWS said.

In July, AWS shut down infrastructure and accounts linked to NSO Group, following reports that the Israeli firm’s Pegasus spyware was used to target at least 50,000 journalists, government and union officials, human rights activists, business executives, religious figures, academics, NGO employees, and lawyers. Earlier this year, the cloud giant also removed right-wing social media app Parler from its infrastructure due to its role in inciting the 6 January insurrection.

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