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Privacy alert: Amazon collects the most data about their customers

Amazon captures value derived from user data by drawing more customers and sellers to the site.

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© AFP / File Ronny Hartmann
© AFP / File Ronny Hartmann

As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approaches, it is important to attempt to stay safe online. New research from VPNOverview reveals the shopping sites that collect the most data from their users.

These issues match concerns that private information is collected, stored and processed on an unprecedented scale, as reported in the Journal of Management Analytics (“Perception of privacy and data protection in the context of the development of artificial intelligence”).

For this, VPNOverview analysed top shopping sites’ privacy policies, finding how much data they collect and what it entails. The types of data included extend to names, addresses, payment details, and even household sizes.

Overall count (from the highest to the lowest) was found to be:

  1. Amazon: 60
  2. AO: 38
  3. John Lewis: 31
  4. Currys: 29
  5. ASOS: 20
  6. Argos: 19
  7. Dyson: 18
  8. Boots: 10
  9. Netaporter: 10
  10. Very: 9

The findings highlight the fact that Amazon is the number one site for collecting data, including 60 elements of private information about their customers. This includes Alexa voice recordings, any of their customer’s friends’ emails and even their credit history information from credit bureaus. Amazon collects data from users as they navigate the site, such as the time spent browsing each page. 

In second place is AO, collecting 38 pieces of data from their customers, followed by John Lewis who collect 31.

In many cases this practice occurs since it is profitable for e-commerce platforms to conduct data mining, to accurately forecast customer demand and to market new products to niches of similar consumers.

VPNOverview’s David Janssen tells Digital Journal: “We know that these savings are tempting, and when you’re in the comfort of your own home, it’s easy to forget about the dangers of online shopping. Keeping your personal information private is becoming increasingly difficult in the current technological era, but Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are never a reason to be lax.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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