The Amazon site, founded by Jeff Bezos on July 5, 1994, was one of the first companies to sell products on the Internet and has made its creator the richest person in the world. Today they offer different types of merchandise such as music CDs, video games, electronic devices, clothing, furniture and food, among others.
The company developed a virtual voice assistant called Alexa which is used by intelligent speakers from the same company, with which you can control everything from your home lights to a smart vacuum cleaner. Anyone can, under data protection laws, ask for a file with everything the company knows about us and anyone who spends time shopping will be surprised by all the information the website has on each user and their family.
There is a database containing transcripts of interactions with Alexa, including audios of some recordings. Here, all product or information requests are recorded, as well as searches for various products on the website, and all navigation details such as page views and clicks on various links.
To become a user of these sites, people have to create a profile and enter personal data, such as name, address, mail, phone number, etc. Many people do not give importance to this, but on the Internet all the information is collected and these pages accumulate a lot of consumer data.
In fact, it is not difficult to deduce that browsing the Amazon pages is already a source of information in itself, since it is easy to see the very complicated web addresses that each product has and that includes an impressive amount of information.
But it could be worse: to cut costs, Amazon is creating a network of stores without cashiers (Amazon Go) where users have to register to enter and are followed to the millimeter in every movement through the store to know what products they put in the basket. It’s not just a facial recognition anymore, it’s that they are given a complete record of their person in every aspect and they can know up to how many times someone has coughed (coronavirus disease?) or if they scratch their head a lot or a little.
Amazon, like all other large Internet companies, acts as a data collector. Every opportunity to interact with a customer is another opportunity to collect data. The founder, Jeff Bezos, has always said that Amazon’s priority is to “find out what customers want, what’s important to them,” and as the company grows and expands, the amount of data being collected increases.
Users are also beginning to raise concerns about this constant invasion of privacy. For example, one of the products that caught our attention at the CES 2020 was the Alexa showerhead manufactured by Kohler. The idea is simple: it’s an Alexa showerhead with speaker, microphone, and IPX7 certification that you can ask to play music, watch the news, or buy shampoo from. Everything is very futuristic, until you stop to think that you are putting a device connected to Amazon in the bathroom and that, without realizing it, you may be generating data related to your consumption or your private life that you would surely not want to share.
At the other extreme, researchers at the University of Chicago in the United States created an ideal solution for privacy fans. It is a unique device worn on the wrist, which they called “the Silence Bracelet“.
The function of this particular invention is to block the operation of microphones near the user. For this purpose it has a total of 24 small speakers that emit ultrasonic signals in many directions that the human ear does not perceive, but the receivers do. In this way, they stop hearing other sounds, for example conversations. In the end, it is an inhibitor.
The war has only just begun.