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How much is your online privacy worth?: The Amazon case

Tell me what you are looking for on the internet and I will tell you who you are. A motto that judging by the movements made by some companies, seems to be more present than other more traditional versions of this saying. Taking advantage of its Prime Day, Amazon has launched a special offer to its customers in the United States: allow the Bezos company to monitor the internet searches they perform in exchange for a $ 10 check redeemable at… Amazon.

About Amazon Assistant

Specifically, this promotion of the online distribution giant is available to those Americans who install Amazon Assistant for the first time, a browser extension that is used to compare prices between different products, and spend more than $ 50 on your Amazon purchase. It is also necessary to install the extension from a particular web page, be a member of Prime and make the purchase through Amazon Assistant.

In order to work properly, Amazon Assistant needs to know the online activity of its users, including the links they access and some of the contents they consult. The problem is, as Amazon explains in the fine print, in that the company can use this data to improve its marketing in general, products and services that have nothing to do with Amazon Assistant.

The access to personal data

Despite this new offer of $ 10, Amazon already had access to this data without paying anything to the user for them. Simply enough, as is the case in Spain, with which the user installs Amazon Assistant. “These data are often used to train machine learning models, with the aim of making them more efficient when it comes to offering advertisements”, the technologist of the NGO Electronic Frontier Foundation, Bennet Cyphers, told Reuters. “But in the United States, there are no limits on what you can do with this information”, he said.

“Consumer trust is paramount for Amazon, and we take the privacy of our customers very seriously”, said a company spokesperson. The representative has also said that customers can deactivate certain characteristics of the wizard and that Amazon only relates the searches of the clients with their account on the platform when interacting with the extension.

However, although it is not interacting directly with him, Amazon Assistant continues collecting data from searches and online activity, as specified by the company in the privacy conditions of the assistant: “When you are not interacting with Amazon Assistant, this collects automatically data from web pages that you visit where we can offer relevant recommendations for products or services”, they declare.

Also published on Medium.

Published inTechnology

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