Allegedly, Amazon collects personal information of all users and uses it for sales. This was raised by Ibraheem S. Samirah, a Virginia lawmaker and native of Virginia. This information was released during a study on the Internet and privacy issues and how to manage the personal data collection of technology companies. He was stunned when he learned the full details of the information Amazon had gathered from him.
He had over 1,000 contacts on the phone. Growing up as a Muslim, he recorded over the phone exactly what part of the Qur’an he had heard on December 17 last year and bought a book called ‘Progressive Community Organizing’. The company was aware of all the searches he conducted on the platform, including sensitive health inquiries that he considered private.
Ibraheem S. Samirah, was one of the few Virginia lawmakers to oppose the business-friendly, state-privacy bill drafted by Amazon earlier this year. At Reuters’ request, Samirah was asked to disclose data collected from Amazon as a customer. The Company is collecting extensive information about its US customers (Amazon customers in the US can obtain their data by filling out a form on Amazon.com).
Amazon collects personal information
These data reveal the company’s ability to collect close-up pictures of individual customers. Amazon collects customer data through its Alexa Voice Assistant, e-commerce marketplace, Kindle e-readers, audible audiobooks, video and music platforms, home security cameras and fitness trackers. Alexa devices make recordings in people’s homes, and ring security cameras capture each visitor.
Such information reveals a person’s height, weight, and health. Their racism (through the clues contained in the voice data) and their political leanings; Their reading and buying habits; Amazon collects information about where they were on any given day, and sometimes who they met. A reporter revealed that between December 2017 and June 2021, The company collected more than 90,000 Alexa recordings of family members. The recording even included details such as the reporter’s baby names and their favorite songs.
Amazon caught kids asking how to convince parents to ‘play’ and received detailed instructions from Alexa on how to convince parents to buy them video games. According to Amazon’s website, Alexa often collects information from more than 180,000 articles using information from a third-party program called ‘WikiHow’, which Alexa uses. But Amazon says they do not have WikiHow, but Alexa sometimes responds to requests from websites.
Some recordings include conversations between family members using tools that Alexa uses to communicate in different parts of the house. Children who apologize to their parents after discipline have copied several recordings. Amazon claims that their Alexa products are designed to start with the trigger word ‘Alexa’ and end when the user’s command ends.
The company said in a statement that scientists and engineers are working to improve technology and avoid erroneous triggers that speed up recording. The company said it was warning customers that recordings would be stored when they set up Alexa accounts. Amazon said it collects personal information to improve products and services and to customize them for individuals. When asked about the recordings of Sameera Quran listening on Amazon’s audiobook service, The company said it allows customers to retrieve such data from where they left off from a previous session.
The only way for customers to delete most of this personal data is to close their account. The company said it still holds certain information, such as the purchase history, even after the account is closed to meet legal obligations. The company said it allows customers to adjust their settings on voice assistants and other services to limit the amount of data they collect. For example, Alexa users can block Amazon from saving their recordings or delete them automatically from time to time. Additionally, they can disconnect contacts or calendars from their smart speaker devices.
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