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Amazon's new privacy policy
September 4, 2000 9:05 AM   Subscribe

Amazon's new privacy policy makes any information you give them a saleable asset. I could have sworn that I saw a link to Amazon's new policy here on MeFi, but now I can't find it. Anyway, when I saw the link my first question was how the old and new policies differed. Then a friend pointed me at this CNNfn article. Whaddy think? Gives me the creeps...
posted by silusGROK (4 comments total)

 
Sounds like the beginnings of an exit plan.
posted by ratbastard at 11:58 AM on September 4, 2000


Sounds like the end of me using their service.
posted by silusGROK at 2:35 PM on September 4, 2000


It really does sound like they're beginning to cover their ass for an eventual bankrupcy and sell-out, because as was recently demonstrated, after a few months of operation, usually the most valuable asset that a dot com has is their customer list and all the associated information.

But Amazon doesn't need to wait for bankrupcy. They've had a cashflow problem for a long time, but they have built up a very large database of people and their buying habits, and I think a lot of other companies would be interested in that. That may be the difference between profit and loss for the company.

This is a true story: there used to be a company which sold a specially designed device for removing nose hair; you'd stick it in a nostril and rotate it and it would catch and cut off the hair. A thoroughly stupid device. It was cheap.

It turns out that this company's main business was selling its mailing list. Anyone who was stupid enough to buy a device like that was valuable to a lot of other companies, and the nose-hair company's main source of income was renting out its mailing list of previous customers to other companies.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 3:28 PM on September 4, 2000


Steven, my Dad just bought one of those! I tried it; it tickles like the dickens. But my Dad has a lot more facial hair, and in awkward places, than I do. Don't knock it ... one day YOU may be on that mailing list. ;-)

The privacy policy (which, BTW, Dave Winer posted) doesn't bother me too much. The whole policy is comparatively transparent and specific, and generally reasonable. That is, if you use a store at Amazon, the information gets transferred so you can have the convenience of them already having your customer info. Or if they sell a business, the people who bought from it constitute a customer list which they will also sell.

Note that there's probably no change in what Amazon would have done, in the long run, anyway: what changed is that, as a result of the pets.com case, they're telling you ahead of time. I thought about that one and decided I didn't care if, say, PetSmart bought the customer list, but if they started auctioning it to anyone who thought that internet pet-supplies buyers would be a good prospect ... that would be icky. And that's the way the ruling came down.

I don't think Amazon, per se, is advertising that they're in trouble. They just recognized that this issue was going to come up and saw what happened at Pets.com.
posted by dhartung at 10:17 PM on September 4, 2000


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