Senators want answers about Amazon’s biometric data collection
A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to Amazon Friday raising questions about its collection of biometric data.
The lawmakers are particularly interested in the expansion of the company’s palm print scanners program, Amazon One.
The scanners are used at Amazon stores to let customers pay without having to take out cards or cash if they enroll in the program.
“Recent reports indicate that Amazon is incentivizing consumers to share their biometric information with Amazon One by offering a $10 promotional credit for Amazon.com products,” Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) wrote to Amazon’s new CEO, Andy Jassy.
“Amazon’s expansion of biometric data collection through Amazon One raises serious questions about Amazon’s plans for this data and its respect for user privacy, including about how Amazon may use the data for advertising and tracking purposes,” they continued.
The lawmakers are demanding the e-commerce giant respond to a series of questions by the end of the month about the expansion of Amazon One and how data collected will be protected.
An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on the specifics of the letter but pointed The Hill to an FAQ about the palm sensors.
The FAQ says that palm images are highly encrypted and sent to a secure storing area and that any customers interested in unenrolling from the program can have their biometrics deleted.
Amazon’s previous forays into biometric data collection have drawn scrutiny from privacy advocates.
The company paused its sale of facial recognition technology to police during the height of anti-police brutality protests last summer and extended that moratorium this year. Research has found that industry-wide the technology tends to be less accurate with people of color and women.
Amazon’s “smart” doorbell brand Ring has drawn scrutiny for expanding the surveillance power of law enforcement.
Updated at 9:57 a.m.