Amazon comes under further fire over privacy policy

Despite a recent agreement by Amazon.com Inc. to bolster its privacy policy amid concerns that it did not go far enough to protect consumers' personal information, privacy groups urged state authorities to further rein in Amazon's data collection habits Tuesday, calling the online retailer untrustworthy.

In a letter sent to more than a dozen state attorneys general, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and other officials, the privacy advocates called for further changes to Amazon's privacy policy that would allow consumers to have greater control over their information, including the ability to keep their purchase records from being transferred and dissociate their identity from any or all transactions.

"As a general principle, bookstores should not be selling dossiers on their customers' reading habits," the letter says.

Amazon reached an agreement with state regulators last month to curtail the sharing of consumer information with third parties after coming under pressure from consumer groups, privacy advocates and government authorities. But despite the deal, some privacy groups are claiming that Amazon still has not done enough to protect consumers' personal information, and are requesting that authorities take further measures to restrict the e-tailer's use of consumer data.

"Amazon actually can put its customers at greater risk than physical-world bookstores or libraries, in that the company can use cookies and personalization technology to track not only book purchases but also book browsing," the letter says.

In their letter sent Tuesday, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and Junkbusters Corp. asked regulators to require Amazon to obtain customers' consent before transferring personal information in the case that it sells one of its business units, and allow consumers to access and delete certain purchase records or dissociate themselves from their transactions.

Furthermore, the groups asked that the Seattle, Washington, retailer be required to submit to an independent audit to determine its compliance with its privacy policy, saying that the company's prior actions have already shown that it cannot be trusted.

Amazon representatives were not immediately available to comment on the letter Tuesday.

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Scarlet Pruitt

Computerworld
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