Check out the latest details that Amazon knows about us

November 19 (Reuters) – As a Virginia lawmaker, Ibrahim Samirah studied Internet privacy issues and debated how to control the privacy of technology companies. Still, Inc. (AMZN.O) was surprised to learn the full details of the information it collected.

The giant e-commerce company has received over 1,000 contacts by phone. On December 17 last year, Samira, who grew up as a Muslim, had a detailed account of which part of the Qur’an she listened to. The company is aware of every search on the platform, including books and other health-related questions that it considers to be “Progressive Community Organizing”.

“Are you selling products or spying on everyday people?” She asked Samira, a Democrat in the Virginia House of Representatives.

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Samira was one of the few Virginia lawmakers who opposed the Amazon-designed industrial privacy law earlier this year. At the request of Reuters, she asked Samira Amazon to disclose the information she had gathered as a consumer.

The company has been collecting large amounts of information about its customers in the United States, and has been making this information available to everyone since the beginning of last year by trying and winning the 2018 California Action Plan. (US Amazon customers can access their data by filling out a form on

Seven Reuters reporters also found their Amazon files. The data show the company’s amazing ability to collect individual images of consumers.

Amazon collects information on consumers through Alexa Voice Assistant, e-commerce market, Kindle e-readers, audio books, video and music platforms, home security cameras and fitness monitors. Alexa-enabled devices record in people’s homes, and alarm cameras capture every visitor.

Such information may reflect a person’s height, weight, and health; Their race (clues included in audio data) and political tendencies; Their reading and buying habits; Where you are every day and sometimes you find them.

Journalist Dossie reports that Amazon collected more than 90,000 copies of Alexa between December 2017 and June 2021 – an average of 70 per day. The copies contain details such as the journalist’s young children’s names and favorite songs.

When Amazon received detailed instructions from Alexx asking how they could persuade their parents to “play” and how to persuade their parents to buy video games, he arrested the children. Be fully prepared, Alex advised his children to reject the usual parenting arguments such as “too strong”, “too expensive” and “you are not doing well in school.” The information came from how to recommend more than 180,000 articles from wikiHow, a third-party software used by Alexis, according to Amazon.

Amazon claims it does not own wiki, but Alexa sometimes responds to requests from websites.

Some copies include conversations between family members using Alexa tools to communicate in different parts of the home. Several copies were seized after children were disciplined and apologized to their parents. Others referred to Alexander’s 7, 9, and 12-year-old children as “punctuated” words.

In one copy, a boy asked, “Alex, what is a penis?” He asked. “Alexa, what does slavery mean?”

The reporter did not realize that Amazon would store the copies before disclosing the information to the family.

Amazon says Alexa’s products are designed to copy as little as possible, starting with the trigger “Alexa” and ending when the user’s order expires. Copies of the journalist’s family, on the other hand, sometimes contain longer speeches.

In a statement, Amazon said scientists and engineers are working to improve the technology and eliminate false triggers that speed up recording. The company said it was notifying its customers that copies would be saved when setting up Alexa accounts.

Amazon says it collects personal information to improve products and services for individuals. Asked about Amazon’s recordings of audio recordings on Amazon Audio Books, Samira said that such information would allow customers to reschedule.

The only way customers can delete most of their personal information is to close their account, Amazon said. The company said it held some information such as purchase history after the account was closed to comply with legal obligations.

Amazon says it allows its customers to adjust their settings on voice assistants and other services to limit the amount of data collected. For example, Alexa users can prevent Amazon from saving their copies or deleting them from time to time. And if you do not want to use the Alexa Call or Schedule function, you can disconnect their contacts or calendars from their smartphone.

A customer may opt out of scanning their copies of Alexa, but they should browse a series of menus and two warnings: “If you turn this off, voice recognition and new features may not work well for you. Asked about the warnings, Amazon said that consumers who restrict the collection of information will not be able to personalize certain features, such as music playback.

Last year, 30-year-old Samira received a smart speaker from Amazon Alexa during the holiday season. He said he was collecting footage and used it for only three days before returning. “It really made me smart,” he said.

The device has already collected all the phone numbers, which is part of the feature that allows users to make calls through the device. Amazon says Alexa users must give the company permission to access their phone addresses. Customers must not only delete the Alexa app, but also disable phone addresses to delete records from their Amazon account.

Samirah says he has no doubt that Amazon has a record of his audiobook and Kindle reading sessions. The discovery of information about the Qur’an on an Amazon archive made Samira think about the story of US police and intelligence agencies following the September 11, 2001 attacks on Muslims on suspicion of terrorism.

“Why do they need to know this?” He asked. Samira’s term ends in January after he lost his bid for re-election earlier this year.

Sometimes law enforcement agencies seek information from clients from technology companies. Amazon has stated that it will comply with the search warrant and other legal court orders to search the information stored on the account, in protest of “excessive or otherwise inappropriate inquiries.”

The three-year Amazon data, which expires in June 2020, shows that the company has complied with at least 75% of court orders, inspections and other court orders against US customers. The company fully met 38% of those requirements.

Amazon ceased to disclose how often it has complied with such requests last year. Asked why, he said Amazon had expanded its reach to make the US report more global and “corrected” information from each country on law enforcement questions.

The company says it has a duty to abide by “correct and binding orders”, but the goal is to release the “minimum” required by law.

Amazon’s 3,500-word privacy policy, which includes more than 20 pages related to privacy and user settings, provides the company with extensive latitude for data collection. Amazon says the policy describes data collection, use and sharing “in a way that is easy for users to understand.”

This information can be very personal. Amazon’s Kindle e-readers, for example, are monitoring the user’s reading habits, according to another Amazon reporter. The release includes records of more than 3,700 reading sessions since 2017, including time-stamped logs – up to milliseconds. Amazon tracks the highlighted words, pages, and promotions.

For example, one family member reads the Mitchel Sisters: A Complete Romance Series on August 8, 2020, turning 428 pages from 4pm 52 to 7pm 36.

Florian Shaub, a privacy researcher at the University of Michigan, says it’s not always clear what businesses are doing with consumer information. “Instead of trusting that the information can not be misused, we need to rely on Amazon to do the right thing.”

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Reporting by Chris Kirkham and Jeffrey Dastin; Edited by Peter Hersburgberg and Brian Tevenot

Our standards are published in The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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