Because of recent concerns from some Rambles readers about reports on Amazon's new policy of selling customer information to other vendors, I contacted the company directly to get the story behind their decision. While I suspect some people's trust in Amazon may have been shaken by the news, it sounds like reports may have been false, or at least exaggerated. Here is the company's response to my letter:
I am very sorry if recent news reports have caused any alarm, and I hope that I can clear up any misunderstandings.
Contrary to some recent reports in the news media, Amazon.com is not in the business of selling customer information. We never have been.
In fact, our new policy is in some ways more restrictive than our old one, which indicated that we "may" sell or rent information in the future. Under the new policy, we specify that we will not disclose customer information to third parties except in certain limited circumstances, one of which is the unlikely possibility that a part of our business is acquired by or merged with another company.
Furthermore, the new privacy notice makes clear that we only share information with affiliated companies if a customer chooses to enter into a transaction with one of these companies, such as Greenlight or, in the near future, ToysRUs.com, with whom we will be operating a co-branded toy store. If you choose not to do business with these stores, then these companies will not have access to any of your account information. If you do choose to shop at one of these stores, the only information we will share is information regarding your transactions with that store; these companies will never have access to information about your other purchases at Amazon.com.
Privacy is as important to us as it is to our customers. Under the express terms of this new Privacy Notice, we are confirming that we are not in the business of selling customer information. By posting the new policy, our hope was to reassure customers by specifying in greater detail the limited occasions in which any of their information might be shared.
I hope that I have been able to allay your concerns and by extension, the concerns of your customers. Please let us know if you have any further questions.
Amazon.com Associates Program