Amazon has appointed controversial former NSA director General Keith Alexander to its board.
A retired four-star general who ran the NSA for nine years, General Alexander has joined as a director and will sit on Amazon’s audit committee. His presence on the board of Amazon was announced yesterday via a security and exchange commission filing.
General Alexander has been a polarising figure in the tech world since his involvement in the architecture of the NSA mass data collection, which led to Snowden’s whistleblowing of the US governmental body in 2013. Systems developed on his watch included PRISM, a data harvesting programme that compromised information at Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.
Amazon’s New Defence Focus
The retired general was the director of the National Security Agency and chief of the Central Security Service from August 2005 to March 2014.
The company has ramped up its interest in defence in recent years, the most notable contract of which is the Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure (JEDI) worth $10 billion, which they lost to Microsoft this year.
According to the filing General Alexander will receive 288 Amazon shares as a result of taking the directorship, spread over three installments in the next 14 months.
Not only will Amazon’s new director be able to lend the company more expertise when it comes to winning defence contracts, he may also be able to help in ordering the huge amount of data that the company will have amassed in the past decade.
Alexander is not the first Amazon board member to have ties to the US Government. Appointed in 2012, Jamie Gorelick had served as the Deputy Attorney General of the United States, General Counsel of the Department of Defense, Assistant to the Secretary of Energy, and had been a member of the National Commission on Terrorist Threats Upon the United States.