Amazon and Privacy The Coming War


If aggressively collecting personal data is a crime, Amazon is guilty as hell.

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If aggressively collecting personal data is a crime, Amazon is guilty as hell.

It’s not, settle down.

If you thought it was just Facebook and Google who want to control what you see and what you buy, you are mistaken. Amazon, the worlds second most valuable company, is just as aggressive in building a profile of your personal information.

They have in fact just launched a product that will expedite the building of those profiles.

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa.

At the bottom of this post, I’ll list out everything Amazon knows about its customers, taken from the Privacy notice on Amazon.com — https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201909010

Suffice to say, it’s a lot, and it doesn’t even specifically reference two major components; that credit card and the Amazon Echo products ( the Echos we’ll save for another day ).

The credit card is impressive, just as Uber did six months or so ago, Amazon came out with their own branded visa, touting an aggressive reward program.

5% back on all the money you spend at Whole Foods is no joke, and no doubt played a significant role in getting people to sign up for the card.

Did Amazon give 5% of purchases back out of the goodness of their heart?

Did they want to create a deeper tie-in between Whole Food and Amazon?

The answer is far more devious and entirely brilliant.

Amazon already knows what you buy from Amazon.com and Whole Foods, with the credit card they now know where else you go and what else you buy…no matter where that is.

Every purchase, every place, logged and added to your profile.

All in the pursuit of more detailed personal shopper profiles, with which they and their partners ( see bottom of the post ) can sell you more stuff.


What Amazon Collects and Stores About You

  • “any information you enter on our Web site or give us in any other way”
  • your name
  • your address
  • your phone numbers
  • credit card information
  • “people to whom purchases have been shipped, including addresses and phone number”
  • “people (with addresses and phone numbers) listed in 1-Click settings”
  • “e-mail addresses of your friends and other people”
  • “content of reviews and e-mails to us”
  • “personal description and photograph in Your Profile”
  • “financial information, including Social Security and driver’s license numbers.”
  • “the Internet protocol (IP) address used to connect your computer to the Internet”
  • your login
  • your email address
  • your Amazon password
  • your “computer and connection information such as browser type, version, and time zone setting, browser plug-in types and versions, operating system, and platform”
  • your “purchase history, which we sometimes aggregate with similar information from other customers to create features like Top Sellers”
  • “the full Uniform Resource Locator (URL) clickstream to, through, and from our Web site, including date and time”
  • “products you viewed or searched for”
  • “the phone number you used to call our 800 number”
  • “session information, including page response times, download errors, length of visits to certain pages, page interaction information (such as scrolling, clicks, and mouse-overs), and methods used to browse away from the page”
  • “information about your location and your mobile device, including a unique identifier for your device”

Bonus Item

There is also a paragraph at the bottom of the page that I find interesting, in light of Facebook and sharing data with its partners.

“Examples of businesses with which we offer joint or co-branded products and other offerings include Starbucks, OfficeMax, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, J&R Electronics, Eddie Bauer and Northern Tool + Equipment.”


Conclusion

Just like Facebook, Amazon isn’t doing this to be evil. They’re doing it to sell to you more efficiently and to build better services.

Should they be more transparent about this?

Yes.

Are they doing enough to protect our data?

Maybe.

Do we need to keep ourselves abreast of how they’re going about this data collection?

Absofuckinglutely.

Do we need to start wearing tinfoil hats and protesting in the streets?

Nope.


Further Reading

If you’d like to weigh in what I’ve written, shoot the shit or if I can help out in any way with writing words or helping refine your product or technology strategy, drop me a line: kerry@betterstory.co or find me on Twitter.