Amazon privacy, and how to improve it

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Amazon is a multinational tech giant and other than its famous online store Amazon also provides a range of other products and services. Whether it is Amazon’s artificial intelligence-based virtual assistant Alexa, your kindle E-reader, or Amazon’s digital streaming service Amazon prime, the company collects a significant amount of data from its users.

The user data collected by Amazon helps them learn what the customer wants, and then they will customize the user experience on various Amazon products and services. But the data collected by Amazon also poses a privacy-related risk for Amazon users. There are concerns among users of Amazon products that their data privacy might be in jeopardy and their personal information might be used to spy on them.

Some commonly asked Amazon privacy linked questions and their answers that you as an Amazon user should know about include:

How does Amazon deal with user privacy?

  • Amazon deals with user privacy using data privacy practices such as Differential Privacy, physical security of data centers, limiting access to user data, and malware scanning of the stored user data.

How can you improve your privacy if you use Amazon services?

  • You can improve your privacy levels while using Amazon services by controlling your public Amazon profile, deleting Alexa voice recordings, making your Amazon wish list private, and turning off browsing history for Amazon

How can you get information removed from Amazon?

  • The only way to remove all your information from Amazon is by deleting your Amazon account.

How can you find out what information Amazon has about you?

  • You can request a copy of your data o know what information Amazon has about you.

Does Amazon tell you who they share your information with?

  • Yes, Amazon shares your information with third parties such as vendors who sell your products or services through Amazon stores, third-party service providers, and legal entities.

Does Amazon remove user information from third parties?

  • Amazon can only remove information from third parties that are directly employed by Amazon.
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Amazon by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

When it comes to your online privacy the more conscious you are the better. And while the new privacy regulations that are being put in place in different countries have forced tech companies including Amazon to improve their user data handling practices users still need to be aware of their rights and how they can control their privacy with Amazon. This is why in this article we are going to answer all of the commonly asked Amazon privacy linked questions in detail.

How does Amazon deal with user privacy?

Amazon has taken some strict measured to ensure the data they hold about their users remains private and secure. The methods used by Amazon to deal with user privacy and keep user data safe from unauthorized access are as follows:

● Differential privacy:

Since Amazon products and services use data generated by users it is inevitable for Amazon to process and collect user information. But the way Amazon makes sure that the information they collect stays anonymous and can’t be used to identify any specific individual is by using a machine learning technique called “Differential privacy”. The way Differential privacy works is that instead of storing and memorizing information about specific individuals the algorithms used by Amazon use data generated by a large population of individuals to learn trends and patterns. This makes sure that Amazon can analyze user data but the outcome of the analysis can’t be traced back to any single individual making data processing more secure and private for the users. 

● Physical security of data centers:

While it is important to ensure proper data handling and processing it would not matter much if the physical data storage locations aren’t safe. Therefore Amazon employs state of the art security measure and surveillance technology to ensure that the data centers are not compromised or accessed by unauthorized individuals.

● Limiting access to user data:

Amazon makes sure that only the authorized employees within the company that need access to user data to carry out their duties have access to it. And the level of access for each employee is only limited to the amount of data they need for example a customer support representative won’t be able to access data about your images and voice data.

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(CC BY 2.0) by Aurelijus Valeiša

● Malware scanning:

With the increasing risk of malware attacks and data breaches Amazon puts up malware detection measures that scan the user data for unwanted codes or malware that might be used by hackers to gain unauthorized access to user data.

How can you improve your privacy if you use Amazon services?

You can never be too careful about your data privacy and security which is why we are providing you with ways to improve your privacy levels when using an Amazon product or service. You can improve your Amazon privacy by:

● Managing your public Amazon profile:

When you create an Amazon profile a public profile for you is automatically generated and lists of your comments, reviews, wish lists, and other data can be found in your public Amazon profile. This information can be used to track you or identify you which is why it is wise to hide your public profile data and activities. You can do this by going to Amazon.com and logging into your Amazon account. Then you have to find and click on “Account and lists” option and select “Your account”. In your account section, you will have to locate the “Ordering and shipping preferences” and right under this option you can find and click on “Profile” to access profile page settings.

Here you will find the “Edit privacy settings” option and click on it. From this screen, you can now hide all your profile activity by selecting the checkbox that says “Hide all activity on your profile”. You can also change your real name to a fake one by clicking the “Edit profile” option from profile page settings and deleting any information you don’t want to keep public and even change your real name to a fake one.

● Deleting Alexa voice recordings:

Alexa is an AI-powered virtual assistant by Amazon that is notorious for recording voice data of its users. But luckily you can listen to and delete all of your voice commands that Alexa has recorded. You can do that by opening the Alexa app in your iOS or Android device and locate the settings option within the app. By going into the settings option you can select the history option to see a list of all the voice commands that you have given to Alexa. You can then select the voice command you want to delete and select “Delete voice recordings” to delete the voice command you want to remove from the history.

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Or if you want to remove all your voice Alexa voice recordings at once go to www.amazon.com/myx, and select “Your devices”. From this menu, you can find Echo and click “Delete all recordings”.

● Making your Amazon wish list private:

Did you know your Amazon wish list can be publicly visible to everyone? If you do not want others to know what you have saved on your Amazon wish list, you have to make the list private. To do this you have to log in to your Amazon account on the Amazon website and select “Account & list”. From the drop-down box select “Wish list” next you will have to find and select the “Manage list”. Here you will find the option to make your wish list private by selecting the private setting.

● Turning off browsing history for Amazon:

Everything you search for or browse on Amazon in collected and stored in a section called “Browsing history”. Now if you don’t want to delete all the browsing history from your account to make sure that the information about the items you search for doesn’t stay saved with Amazon you can do that in a few simple steps. First, you have to log into the official Amazon website, and on the main page that loads you can find and click on the “Browsing History” option on the top of the page. Now find and click on “Manage history” and the next page that loads will have the option for you to turn off browsing history and delete all the stored items as well.

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How can you get information removed from Amazon?

Keep in mind that the only way to remove all of your information from Amazon is by deleting your Amazon account. If you want to do this you need to contact Amazon directly via online live chat or by calling Amazon customer support and requesting them to delete or close your Amazon account permanently.

How can you find out what information Amazon has about you?

Amazon gives you the option to download a copy of your data that is stored with them whenever you request it. You can request a copy of your information by login into your Amazon account and then finding and opening the option called “Request All Your Data”. Here you will find the option to submit your data request and then you will receive an email to confirm it is you who requested your data to be downloaded. After that, you will receive an email containing all of your personal information from Amazon.

Does Amazon tell you who they share your information with?

Amazon mentions in their privacy notice that they share user information with the following third parties:

● Third parties that provide products or services through Amazon:

Since Amazon is a market place where vendors and other third parties can sell their products Amazon has to share user information with these third parties that offer products or services through their platform.

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● Third-party partners:

Amazon employs companies and services that help Amazon in fulfilling the deliveries, managing marketing activities, and processing transactions to name a few. But Amazon assures that these third party partners can only utilize user data for the purpose they need it for and they abide by Amazon’s privacy policies.

● Legal entities:

In case of investigating a fraud that happened through Amazon, illegal activities, or if required by state law Amazon might share user information with law enforcement agencies and the courts.

Does Amazon remove user information from third parties?

Amazon can only remove the user data that is held by Amazon and the partners or subsidiaries that Amazon employs to provide its products and services to customers. Data shared by Amazon with independent third parties can only be removed as per the privacy policies of that party.