Amazon launches another controversial ad feature
Ads have been a fundamental part of the Web 2 experience. Pretty much all of the major web sites, products, and services are built, at least in part, off the profits they gather from optimized and tailored ads. Amazon is no different here and as you would expect from a company like Amazon, has actually pushed a little too far on a number of occasions in its attempts to get access to and its use of our personal data. Today, we have news of another new ads feature that may fall into the same controversial category.
It was earlier this year when it became apparent that Amazon’s gift registries feature was not nearly as private as users would have hoped. A report by The Intercept revealed that the feature was so open that it offered identity thieves an almost one-stop-shop to get all they needed to steal a user’s identity. If we go back a little further to July last year, Amazon received a record fine of $888 million from the Luxembourg Data Protection Authority for GDPR-related infractions.
Much like Facebook and Meta, Amazon has a checkered past when it comes to privacy so we need to be careful whenever the company releases a new feature that could potentially infringe upon it. That is why privacy is at the forefront of this article, which is reporting on a new Amazon feature that will see the company paying users $2 a month if they share details of when and where they see Amazon ads on the mobiles. Sure, this could see you earning a small portion of your Amazon Prime subscription, but what else is going on here?
The feature is called ad verification and is available to Amazon users who have the Amazon Shopper Panel app installed on their phone. The Shopper Panel asks users to send receipts they have from other retailers, as well as filling out various surveys, etc. in exchange for up to $10 a month. The new ad verification feature adds an extra feature on top of it for users in the US and UK.
Worryingly, however, the feature isn’t limited to Amazon ads and will also snoop on the ads you are seeing from other retailers too. The company says it will use the data for making more finely tuned advertisements as well as product recommendations on its site and apps. Although, Amazon does say that it will keep all of the data private, the cases outlined above clearly show that we need to take those assertions with a pinch of salt.Advertisement