Writing at Privacy News Online, Glyn Moody says online retailer Amazon has successfully lobbied against privacy protections.
Moody sourced some of his material from a Reuters report: Amazon wages secret war on Americans’ privacy, documents show.
The company plans to use its Alexa speakers and other surveillance technologies to collect vast amounts of data on millions of customers. Amazon also uses fear to bully policymakers and the press in order to shut down resistance to its intrusive data gathering.
... they were shocked by the quantity and granularity of the information Amazon held about them. For example, one reporter found that Amazon held more than 90,000 recordings that Alexa devices had made of family members since 2017.
Alexa devices were also able to access data from iPhones and other non-Amazon systems, including one reporter’s iPhone calendar entries, complete with the names of the people he was to contact.
This exposes the central problem with Amazon’s Alexa systems: most people – even relatively savvy ones – don’t realize how much personal data the devices gather.
Key to addressing the data protection issues this raises is to make people aware, and to give them the choice as to whether to allow that information to be gathered constantly. The Reuters investigation reveals that the main thrust of Amazon’s lobbying activities was stopping that happening.
It’s a damning and worrying story.
There are already 64 million people in the US using Amazon speakers. The company sells them at a loss because the data they gather is so valuable. The idea is to capture an ever increasing amount of personal data on customers to build complete profiles of what they might want and think.
For now that is all about selling to them through Amazon’s retail operation, although there is potential to do so much more with this kind of data.