Amazon is offering consumers $10 of credit in exchange for tracking their shopping habits and the promotions of rival retailers.
To get the edge over rivals Walmart and Target in, the company is using its Amazon Prime Day marketing onslaught to coerce its shoppers to share valuable web activity in exchange for $10. Shoppers can do so by installing the Amazon Assistant web browser extension.
Reuters reports that the company said it was using the data to power Amazon Assistant comparison-shopping tool, but in small print added that the information could enrich its “general marketing, products and services, unrelated to the shopping assistant”.
Last year, the retailer offered $5 off to new Amazon Assistant (with a spend of $25). In 2019, it doubled the stakes, $10 for $50 of spend. Some seven million people already use the assistant in a transaction reminiscent of Facebook’s free internet model where it can monetise the data generated by users.
Jeremy Tillman, president of security brower Ghostery said: “This data is tremendously valuable to Amazon and offering users a mere $10 for unlimited data collection is analogous to the Dutch buying Manhattan island for $24 in 1626 – they’re banking on the fact that users have no idea how valuable their data is and the fact that they won’t properly understand this transaction.
“Also, it’s ironic in the wake of the Manifest V3 changes that this sort of naked data collection is perfectly within the rules that Google allows for its webstore.”
An Amazon spokesperson told Amazon: “Customer trust is paramount…and we take customer privacy very seriously,” and noted that the data gathering is for sites “where we may have relevant product or service recommendations”.
Hayley Tsukayama of the Electric Frontier Foundation wrote: “If anything, assigning a dollar value may give the false impression that, at a value of $5, $30, or $200 for your personal information, the data collection companies’ conduct is no big deal. But a specific piece of information can be priceless in a particular context. Your location data may cost a company less than a penny to buy, yet cost you your physical safety if it falls into the wrong hands.”
This news lands on Amazon Prime Day where staff have reportedly downed tools in strike against working conditions at the global ecommerce giant. Undisrupted, the event was expected to raise $6bn,
Furthermore, Europe is about to investigated the company for competition breaches. The case will probe how Amazon uses the data of its third-party merchants, with it also running its own products on the site in competition of many.
Rival service eBay threw shade at Amazon with an ad campaign mocked that Prime Day last night. It cast aspersions over the quality of goods in the sale and the durability of the web giant's site under high traffic constraints.