Originally written for Hacker Noon on Medium.
Is Amazon next up in the coming privacy war?
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 buy, you are mistaken. Amazon, the world's 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.
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 undoubtedly 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
For the full list see: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201909010
A selection of the info Amazon has stored about their customers:
- “any information you enter on our Web site or give us in any other way”
- your phone numbers
- credit card information
- “people to whom purchases have been shipped, including addresses and phone number”
- “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”
- “the full Uniform Resource Locator (URL) clickstream to, through, and from our Web site, including date and time”
- “the phone number you used to call our 800 number”
- “information about your location and your mobile device, including a unique identifier for your device”
There is also a paragraph at the bottom of the page that I find interesting regarding 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.”
Just like Facebook, Amazon isn’t doing this to be evil. Instead, they’re doing it to sell to you more efficiently and to build better services.
Should they be more transparent about this?
Are they doing enough to protect our data?
Do we need to keep ourselves abreast of how they’re going about this data collection?
Do we need to start wearing tinfoil hats and protesting in the streets?