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How Many Different Ways Is This Wrong?

A friend of mine sent this link to me. I was incensed. (I think he knew I would be). In turn, I sent this link into an Internet Identity community I belong to and asked : “How many different ways is this wrong?”

Amazon To Pay Consumers For Their Shopping Data

Photo by Free To Use Sounds on Unsplash

People First Podcast Guest Tim Walters was quick to reply (the link takes you to the podcast – the show has not yet gone live).

The great and sadly late European Data Protection Supervisor, Giovanni Buttarelli, said it all in 2014:

“There might well be a market for personal data, just like there is, tragically, a market for live human organs, but that does not mean that we can or should give that market the blessing of legislation. One cannot monetise and subject a fundamental right to a simple commercial transaction, even if it is the individual concerned by the data who is a party to the transaction.”

If I thought it was worth $10 a month, I’d go to a shopping district and gather discarded receipts to scan for Amazon. After all, “That data will be used anonymously, the company says.” But . . . if it is genuinely used anonymously, why doesn’t Amazon just collect and study discarded receipts themselves? They could certainly find a way to do it at far more scale — not to mention, actually anonymously — than a cumbersome mailed-pictures-of-paper-receipts-for-Amazon-credit scheme. (S&H Green Stamps, anyone?)

The company says it deletes any sensitive information such as prescriptions from drug store receipts and allows panellists to delete their own information whenever they want.” Oh, not so anonymous after all.

Tim Walters / Giovanni Buttarelli

What do you think?