8   +   2   =  

Amazon Assistant for Mobile Devices:

Amazon Assistant helps you discover and compare products and services while shopping on your mobile device, and the descriptions above apply to the content you view in your apps instead of the websites you view. Once you enable it, Amazon Assistant provides comparison features automatically as you shop in supported apps on your device. For supported devices, Amazon Assistant can read apps you view through the accessibility service if you enable your device’s accessibility service for the app, and Amazon Assistant will use that method to collect the information described above. Amazon Assistant mobile app settings allow you to control features and related information collection.

PS – This is a supplement to Amazon’s highly invasive Privacy Policy, so it means it has extra snooping abilities. If you want nightmares – read Amazon’s privacy policy – trackers and all.

This is not the first time Amazon has stepped outside the bounds.

According to Reuters, it also uses extensive links with social media, cookies and invisible tracking pixels to track user activity and target laser-focus advertisements at you. Amazon Assistant can give it data basically everywhere you go online.

GadgetGuy’s take – Amazon Assistant does not pass the pub test

Fortunately, Amazon Assistant is not here yet – or at least we hope not. GadgetGuy readers should see this for what it is – never let the fox guard the chickens.

CEO Steve Bezos – NSA, FBI, CIA, no Amazon!

It is the most intrusive privacy policy we have read to date. While it offers you a choice to switch off some settings, like most apps/browser extensions once downloaded, even if not used, it still does its snooping job. Amazon Assistant is a win-lose for Amazon/you.

As we have not tried the app, we cannot comment on its full functionality. Maker of the free Ghostery (an anti-tracking app) said that Amazon Assistant also monitors activity on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Remember Amazon is a giant online retailer (e-commerce and fulfilment), media and advertising agency (selling your data via predictive analytics and laser-focused advertising), and Amazon Web Services (the tech that glues it together).

Amazon is also part of FAANG (read GadgetGuy article here and well worth a read). If the US Democrats (the other party) have it’s way will be broken up to level the playing field. The EU also announced it was after Amazon for alleged breaches of its tough anti-trust laws.

And there is a good, independent article on Amazon data collection here and it has expanded the scope since written.

How to remove Amazon Virus Assistant according to 2-spyware.

Amazon Assistant changes the homepage, search engine and the new tab address to Amazon Smart Search – this is a clear indication of browser hijacking, and this technique is used to display altered search results, filling them with sponsored links, targeted by pop-ups, in-text links, promotional offers, deals, and other intrusive content.

Amazon Assistant may not technically be a virus; the key dilemma lies in its security. The application causes browsing and privacy-related problems. It is a PUP (potentially unwanted program) and says AV companies should automatically remove it as they would any other PUP. Apparently, MalwareBytes is the only one to remove Amazon Virus.

But even that is not foolproof as it usually returns after a reboot. That is because it places a huge range of entries into the registry and requires systematic, not one-click removal from all browsers and the operating system. And because its not identified as Amazon Assistant and goes under the various names and entries like Babylon Toolbar, Babylon Chrome Toolbar, Babylon Chrome OCR 1.1, Bablony Translator 1.3, Babylon Word Search, Babylon 1.5, Search Protect by conduit, Conduit Search, WebCake 3.00, MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe (MS Edge) and Searchme 1.2 (Safari) and then needs to reset the search bar to your normal provider.

What does Amazon own/do?

  • Amazon.com and Amazon Prime membership for additional benefits
  • Prime Music and Music Unlimited (and variants)
  • Prime Video (and variants)
  • Amazon Studios (creates video content)
  • Amazon App store (for its Amazon devices)
  • Kindle and Kindle eBook store
  • Goodreads and Shelfari – user’s recommendations for Amazon Books
  • Audible – spoken entertainment
  • Alexa – voice recognition, shopping and analytics
  • Fire TV devices – casting video content to a TV
  • Fire Tablets
  • Echo speakers and devices
  • Digital Games Store
  • Twitch live streaming games platform
  • Amazon Wireless
  • Amazon Web Services
  • ComiXology – digital comics platform
  • Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market
  • Amazon search and reviews
  • And many, many more enterprises in over 130 countries

The Wikipedia article is here.