GadgetGuy regularly warns readers about understanding what app permissions to allow and to be careful with personal data online. It seems Amazon Assistant spies on you and has well and truly failed the privacy ‘pub test’. Note this article relates to US, CA, UK, FR, ES, DE, IT, JP, IN and CN, but it could happen here.

The latest news is that Amazon offered its US Prime Members (yet another Amazon loyalty program to gain more data and draw you in) US$10 to install Amazon Assistant. Amazon says it helps you discover Amazon products and compare prices as you shop across the web as well as a tool to streamline Amazon purchases.

This article is in parts, and you need to read all if you have installed Amazon Virus Assistant.

  1. What Amazon does
  2. What Amazon does not explicitly say about Amazon Assistant
  3. Other Amazon tracking
  4. GadgetGuy’s take – pub test fail
  5. How to remove Amazon Assistant – it’s not easy

What Amazon does

First, Amazon is a giant online ‘retailer’ and pretty well everything it does, including Amazon Alexa, Amazon Prime, and now Amazon Assistant focuses on drawing you further down the Amazon rabbit hole.

You need to be doubly careful of the pedigree, business model and motives of any app developer. Especially if it comes from big business, social media, government or apparently unrelated entities. Remember if the product is free, the product is you.

Second, Amazon’s e-commerce raison d’être uses some of the most sophisticated AI, machine learning and tech on this planet (AWS). That tech builds a personal profile (euphemistically called your Amazon Account) that knows more about you than your mum. That profile drives advertising for things you do not realise you need.

Third, it is one of the larger advertising fulfilment agencies (like Facebook and sells advertising to third parties) and promises laser-like focus using your personal data.

Matt Keiser, CEO of LiveIntent, explains, “Amazon’s approach is in all the hot-button issues for marketers, including closed-loop attribution, lifetime value and customer experience. It benefits from unfettered access to the underlying data and mirrors the Amazon ethos: a better experience for consumers while passing the efficiency and performance through to advertisers.”

You can read more later about what Amazon owns and therefore pushes to its users.

What Amazon does not explicitly say about Amazon Assistant

It does not explicitly say is that it is a plug-in browser extension or mobile app with incredibly wide-ranging tracking powers.

It has a separate privacy policy buried in the website – here is the gist.

Information We Collect Automatically.

Amazon Assistant automatically collects information about websites you view where we may have relevant product or service recommendations when you are not interacting with Amazon Assistant. We do not connect this information to your Amazon account, except when you interact with Amazon Assistant as described in “Information We Collect When You Interact with Amazon Assistant” below.

This information is used to operate, provide, and improve Amazon Assistant’s comparison features and Amazon’s marketing, products, and services (including for business analytics and fraud detection). For example, we collect and process the URL, page metadata, and limited page content of the website you are visiting to find a comparable Amazon product or service for you, along with general information about your browser and OS. Amazon shares this information with Amazon.com, Inc. and subsidiaries that Amazon.com, Inc. controls and that are either subject to the Amazon.com Privacy Notice or follow practices at least as protective as those described in the Privacy Notice.

Information We Collect When You Interact with Amazon Assistant:

When you interact with Amazon Assistant, we connect browsing information with your Amazon Account. In these cases, Amazon Assistant acts as an extension of the Amazon shopping experience and processes your personal information in accordance with the Privacy Notice. For example, you may interact with Amazon Assistant’s icon, notification features, or any of Amazon Assistant’s comparison features to explore and compare the product or service you are viewing on websites to Amazon’s products and services. In these cases, we will collect, and process browsing information related to the Amazon Assistant features you are interacting with (including information on the website you visited, the product or service compared, your Amazon account, and your search query).

What Choices Do I Have?

You can control collection of “Information We Collect When You Interact with Amazon Assistant” by disabling the relevant Amazon Assistant features in your Amazon Assistant settings. You can also control collection of “Information We Collect Automatically” by disabling the Configure Comparison Settings.