Out-Law News

Amazon.com revises its privacy policy to sell data

On-line retail giant Amazon.com has notified its 23 million customers that it has revised its privacy policy to reflect the fact that customer information may be sold as an asset.

CEO Jeff Bezos said that the revision is in part because Amazon.com is now the parent of many smaller companies that might be sold or consolidated as part of the company’s growth strategy and drive towards profitability. He said: “We value the trust our customers place in us, and we wanted them to have as clear a picture as possible of what we’re doing and not doing when it comes to the information they give us.”

The new policy states that while Amazon does not share customer data with outside third parties now, it does share information among its own network of companies and on-line partners. The new policy also removes a feature that allowed customers to limit use of their information by sending a single e-mail. Instead, it directs users on disabling cookies used by the site.

In July, the Federal Trade Commission sued Toysmart.com Inc. when the on-line toy retailer collapsed and then tried to sell customer data despite promising customers that it would never do so. Settlement negotiations are continuing.

Amazon.com has denied that the new policy is a response to an FTC investigation into and lawsuits against market research firm Alexa that is accused of tracking internet users and forwarding that information to Amazon.com.

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