Amazon Altering Privacy Wording

Once again is making some changes to the wording of its privacy policy, and once again the changes don’t really satisfy the company’s critics on the issue of how personal data is treated.

This week the Seattle-based retail giant, after talks with a coalition of state attorneys general led by Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly, agreed to provide more protection for consumer data that it collects and agreed not sell its customer database to other marketers.

At least that’s the way the attorneys general saw it.

Amazon, in a letter to the attorneys general, said it plans to list the companies with which it offers joint or co-branded services and to offer more details on the types of customer information it collects from other sources.

Amazon said it would update its published privacy policy on its site over the next few weeks. Reilly was quoted as saying that Amazon also will provide specific examples of what data is collected and how the data is used.

However, privacy critic Jason Catlett at quoted Amazon Vice President and Associate General Counsel David A. Zapolsky as saying in a letter to the officials that:

“we are not making any material changes in our policies and practices regarding customer information …” and the company is moving to “expand some of the examples provided in the (privacy notice on the site), as well as clarify some of the provisions that may have been misunderstood in the past.”

Catlett said his take is that “although the changes offer a little more transparency on where data about Amazon’s customers goes, Amazon has done nothing about its three gaping privacy holes: customers can’t see all the data kept about them, they can’t delete the records and Amazon still says it may sell a division wholesale along with personal data it promised never to sell.”

Amazon’s privacy policy was much in the news a year ago when the Federal Trade Commission rejected a petition from privacy advocates claiming that the company violated the law by making changes in its privacy policy in 2000.

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