Amazon Knows You Better Than Yourself
By George Anderson
There’s no doubt in the minds of many that Amazon.com fits the role of a big brother.
The question is whether it’s the kind of big brother that looks after younger siblings, offering them advice that keeps them safe and on the right track (similar to Wally Cleaver
in the old “Leave It to Beaver” series), or if it’s Orwellian and sinister with free shipping attached on orders over predetermined amounts.
For those who freely share their preferences and purchasing history with the company, Amazon is clearly the reliable big brother who understands their needs and uses its own
wider knowledge to assist them in making wise buying decisions.
Analyst David Garrity with Caris & Co. is among these who see a benevolent big brother when they look at Amazon. “One would argue that this is the basis on which a great
relationship with a customer was founded,” he told The Associated Press. “If only our significant others were like this.”
Others such as Chris Hoofnagle of the Electronic Privacy Information Center know 1984 has passed but see Amazon’s data gathering as evidence Orwell’s story has gone from fiction
According to Mr. Hoofnagle, Amazon is “constantly finding new ways to exploit personal information.”
Some have expressed concern over a recent patent filing by the retailer for technology that tracks shoppers gift-giving activities while including personal information such as
the age of those receiving the gift. Federal law prohibits gathering data on children under the age of 13.
Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on the value of collecting data on consumers and their right to privacy? Does the current state of security
in this area make the pledges by companies to protect personal data more a statement of aspiration than a promise of performance?
- Amazon.com knows more about you than
you might think Online retailer collects personal information, trying to parlay it into more sales without alienating customers. – The Associated Press/St. Louis Post Dispatch