Amazon.com changes their privacy policy

Amazon.com has changed its privacy policy, writes ALA Councilor Mark Rosenzweig on the Anarchist Librarians list.

\"They state that they will indeed sell [your] information to whomever they wish... Why is this a library issue? Because libraries have traditionally and
correctly defended the privacy of our patrons records. Now we promote in our libraries behavior which jeopardizes that privacy...\"

Read on for the full text of Councilor Rosenzweig\'s letter.Drifting down the river with Amazon.com....

Well, there\'s a turn in the river, friends.

Amazon announced today, to my utter dismay but hardly without my having
pessimistically anticipated it, that it has \"changed its \'privacy policy\'\".

Librarians concerned with \"privacy issues\" take heed!

I myself admit to a certain naivete when I first saw the e-mail
announcement this morning. Befogged with awakening from sleep, before my
morning coffee,I thought, seeing the message from Amazon about their
privacy policy, that perhaps they\'ve actually STRENGTHENED their policy.

Far from it! I didn\'t even OPEN the e-mail from them this morning, assuming
it to be benign self-promotion.

Actually it turned out to be what I consider to be an historic decisison in
the development of Web-based interaction, an announcement which makes real
many of our fears about \"transactions\" (of any kind, but especially
commercial) on the Web.The terms under which you first start dealing with
an entity may be subject to change and your personal data can be sold or
shared at whim!

They have invoked the phrase that \" our privacy policies are subject to
change\" in their old boilerplate,to justify claiming PROPRIETARY RIGHTS
over all the information they have accumulated about all customers who
signed and made purchases under the previous \"non-disclosing\" option. They
state that they will indeed sell this information to whomever they wish
under whatever terms (along tyhe way admitting that they\'ve already
\"shared\" the information about you they\'ve gleaned to their so-called
\"sister\" companies),

Why is this a library issue? Because libraries have traditionally and
correctly defended the privacy of our patrons records. Now we promote in
our libraries behavior which jeopardizes that privacy and even, in some
cases, encorage its jeopardization.

Books after all don\'t collect demographic and other information about their
users. Anything on-line now, however, which calls for some kind of sign-on
linked to some kind of ID, puts records of one\'s every keystroke
potentially up for grabs.

This is exacerbated by the fact that SOME LIBRARIES HAVE ACTUALLY LINKED
THEIR ON-LINE CATALOGS TO AMAZON.COM, encouraging patrons to visit a
company(for additional information - HAH!) which a) has now admitted
violating its agreement not to share one\'s information with anyone (even a
\"sister\" company) and 2)now claims ownership and the right to sale of the
data they have accumulated which the customer thought was private.

In view of this I CALL UPON LIBRARIES WHICH HAVE LINKED THEIR CATALOGS TO
AMAZON.COM TO IMMEDIATELY DE-LINK THEM.

And, further I, I would suggest that we warn patrons that any transactions
with even the most \"reputable\" Web companies or, for that matter, any
Web-based entities, in which they identify themselves while in-line in any
way risks having their personal behavior logged in a proprietary database
which, at any time, can be put up for sale to anybody willing to pay the
price.

I am too apalled to go on. I have used Amazon myself for MANY purchases
which I would never have made if I knew they would sell information about
me...

Mark Rosenzweig
ALA Councilor at large

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