Amazon announced today that its streaming device Amazon Streaming Stick could include a “rape shield” that would “protect women from sexual violence” without the need for a rape kit.
The new rape shield technology could be used by women who want to “make a statement without having to go through the whole kit and rape process,” Amazon said in a blog post.
The company also promised to improve its response to rape, with an improved response team, and increased training for the company’s human resources team.
Amazon’s rape shield has been described as a device that would allow victims to “self-inject” their own DNA into a “safe area” before being able to “use it to trace a perpetrator.”
“We have a long way to go before we have a technology that can protect us all, but today we are at the beginning of that journey,” Amazon wrote in its blog post announcing the new rape shields.
“In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to improve the technology to make it even safer.”
Amazon’s announcement comes after a string of sexual assaults in which men accused of sexual assault have used the devices to “befriend” their accusers, sometimes by threatening to “dox” them on social media.
The New York Times reported last week that the number of men who have used rape shields has spiked since the new technology was introduced.
The technology has also been widely criticized for being an “attempt to silence” victims.
“If you’re a victim of sexual violence, you deserve to know your attacker is listening,” Jessica Valenti, executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, said in an editorial for The Guardian.
“It’s hard to imagine that Amazon’s new rape-shielding technology is a good idea for anyone who’s been sexually assaulted, but it’s especially hard to envision how that’s even possible when you don’t know who your attacker was.
Rape shields are a big step forward but they’re only the beginning,” Valenti added.
The NYT reported that one victim who has accused Amazon of rape shield abuse, who was also able to get a rape shield through her abuser, said that Amazon had done a poor job of explaining the technology.
“I don’t believe they actually understand how it works,” the victim said.
“They’ve said that you need to have a kit, but I’ve never heard them explain how you can get one.”
The NYT also reported that the technology is already being used in Canada, and Amazon has confirmed it is in use in other countries.
“Amazon’s rape-Shield is not available to Canadians in Canada,” a spokesperson for the Canadian embassy in Washington, DC, told The Verge in an email.
“Our consular experts are working with our partners in Canada to assess their use of the new Amazon.ca platform.
Amazon.com is also working with Canada’s national police to help ensure the security of our citizens, and to ensure our citizens are not being subject to harassment and abuse.
In the meantime, we will continue to work with our customers to address any issues with their devices.”