RealTime IT News

Coming Clean on Privacy

They store any information you may enter on their Web site. They use cookies to track you. They sometimes buy information about you from other sources. They are Amazon.com Inc., and they are no different from lots of other e-tail operations, except that today they adopted a beefed up disclosure policy.

They also took the unusual step of notifying all the millions of their customers by e-mail about the revised privacy policy.

"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," said Amazon.com founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos in a press release describing the action.

"In revising our privacy policy, we tried to take into consideration not only our current activities but also those things we could imagine possibly happening in the future, he said.

The complete disclosure is available here and there's a link from the very bottom of the main page.

Among other things, Amazon.com owns up to receiving confirmations that its outgoing e-mails have been opened "if your computer supports such capabilities."

It also shares information about its customers, but says that "we share customer information only with the subsidiaries Amazon.com controls" and with affiliates that operate stores at Amazon.com. These stores and affiliates include the sellers of everything from automobiles to pet supplies.

The new privacy disclosure also offers an opt-out for those who don't want promotional e-mail.

Meanwhile, troubled music retailer K-tel International Inc. said it has become an Amazon.com Associate and will outsource consumer order and fulfillment services on its www.ktel.com site to Amazon.

K-tel will continue to manage sales transactions for its digital music downloads and custom CDs. Financial arrangements were not disclosed. The struggling company, recently bumped down to the Nasdaq SmallCap Market, has seen its stock trading in the $1.50 range recently, down from a 52-week high of $11.75.

The deal with Amazon is aimed at reducing operating costs and increasing margins, the company said. K-tel will continue to provide full service transactions for proprietary downloads and custom CDs.