Amazon workers snoop on celebrity purchases, customers’ data: Report


(IANS) Amazon employees are snooping on the purchases made by celebrities and have access to the vast trove of customers’ data, a new report has claimed.

According to an investigation by The Wired, some low-level employees at Amazon “were using their data privileges to snoop on the purchases of celebrities, while others were taking bribes to help shady sellers sabotage competitors’ businesses, doctor Amazon’s review system, and sell knock-off products to unsuspecting customers”.

It appears that despite Amazon’s customer-first mentality, company officials have allegedly failed to prioritise securing its customers’ most personal information.

“In the name of speedy customer service, unbridled growth, and rapid-fire ‘invention on behalf of customers’ — in the name of delighting you — Amazon had given broad swathes of its global workforce extraordinary latitude to tap into customer data at will,” the report emphasised.

Customer purchase histories were available to Amazon’s global customer service team, with little security or supervision to prevent the snooping by employees, the report alleged.

“Millions of credit card numbers had sat in the wrong place on Amazon’s internal network for years, with the security team unable to establish definitively whether they’d been unduly accessed”.

According to internal documents reviewed by non-profit Reveal from the Centre for Investigative Reporting and Wired, Amazon’s vast empire of customer data — what you search for, what you buy, what shows you watch, what pills you take, what you say to Alexa, and who’s at your front door — “had become so sprawling, fragmented, and promiscuously shared within the company that the security division couldn’t even map all of it, much less adequately defend its borders”.

An Amazon spokesperson said in a statement that the company has “an exceptional track record of protecting customer data”.

“The fact that Amazon’s privacy and security issues are extensively documented with extensive review from senior leadership highlights our commitment to these issues and demonstrates the vigilance with which we identify, escalate, and respond to potential risks,a the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

During an antitrust hearing in 2020, former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said that employees don’t access the data.

Bezos, however, added that he couldn’t guarantee that the policy prohibiting employees from doing so “wasn’t violated”.

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