US Congressman still not happy with Amazon's Silk browser

In October, US House of Representatives member Edward Markey (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos, asking for some information about the Silk web browser that is included in the recently launched Kindle Fire tablet. Markey said he had concerns that the cloud-based browser " ... will enable Amazon to collect and utilize an extraordinary amount of information about its users' Internet surfing and buying habits."

In early November, Amazon responded to Markey's inquires with its own letter. The note, written by Paul Misener, the company's vice president for global public policy, answered Markey's question of what Amazon planned to do with the information it receives from users of the Silk browser with the following response:

Customer information is an important part of our business and an important driver of customer experience and future invention. We do not sell (or rent) the information to others and do not have plans to do so.

That answer was not what Markey was looking for. His own statement says:

Amazon’s responses to my inquiries do not provide enough detail about how the company intends to use customer information, beyond acknowledging that the company uses this valuable information. Amazon states ‘Customer information is an important part of our business’, but it is also important for customers to know how the company uses their personal information. Amazon is collecting a massive amount of information about Kindle Fire users, and it has a responsibility to be transparent with its customers.

Markey also asked Amazon if Kindle Fire customers could opt-out of having their surfing and web browsing info given to Amazon's servers via the Silk browser. In response, Misener said that Kindle Fire users could shut off the cloud-based features of the browser and have it operate like any other web browser. However, he did not indicate if Amazon would allow customers to use the cloud servers but simply not have that web browsing info be transmitted to Amazon's servers.

Markey said he will continue to follow up with Amazon on this issue but did not say when he planned to ask additional questions.

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