October 8, 2002 5:39 PM PDT
State presses Amazon for privacy response
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As previously reported, privacy advocates Junkbusters and the Electronic Privacy Information Center Tuesday sent a letter to consumer protection regulators in 14 states, the District of Columbia and the Federal Trade Commission, charging that Amazon was not doing enough to protect customers' privacy.
In a response also sent Tuesday, the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office said it did not endorse changes recommended by the privacy groups. However, the office did say that it had forwarded the privacy groups' letter to Amazon and was awaiting the company's own response.
"We are interested in receiving Amazon's reply to the concerns you raise," the attorney general's office said in its letter, a copy of which was seen by CNET News.com.
Representatives for Amazon.com and for the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office did return calls seeking comment.
The groups said that Amazon should allow customers' to view and delete records and suggested the company should submit to an independent audit of its compliance with its privacy policies.
Amazon has said that its latest revisions was not a "material change" to its privacy statement.
Massachusetts has its say
The Massachusetts Attorney General's Office said in its letter that Amazon had committed to protecting customers' privacy.
The attorney general's office added that it didn't think an audit of Amazon's privacy practices was "necessary," as Amazon had been responsive to concerns raised by state regulators. Still, the office said that it was eager to hear Amazon's response to the privacy groups' audit recommendation as well as whether the company would consider allowing customers to view their own personal information collected by Amazon.
"We agree with you that these are very valuable tools for consumers, and that these tools may greatly enhance the ability of consumers to protect their privacy," the attorney general's office said.
Long a concern for consumer advocates, online privacy took center stage in June 2000 when failed toy e-tailer Toysmart attempted to sell its customer records as part of a bankruptcy proceeding. After the Toysmart controversy, a number of e-tailers, including Amazon, modified privacy statements to allow the transfer or sale of customer records in case of bankruptcy or acquisition.