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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I just enjoy these douche bag politicians feigning interest in protecting the privacy of the people one minute and then turning right around to pass SOPA and the myriad of other crushing laws that allow the government to practically crawl up your rear end with a microscope at will... oh but that's OK because some make believe Boogey man in scaring grandma... pathetic.

He just needs to stop browsing porn on his kindle. Why doesn't he stop the snail mail spam I get in my mailbox by the tons from people access my information from Gov records they put on display?

This Congressman was born in 1946. I don't know about you but my parents were born around then and they just learned how to text let alone navigate the latest tablet device and learn all of its privacy intricacies. Guarantee this guy doesn't even know how to use the device.

Well, if you looked into owning A kindle fire at all, you should know some very important things. It comes pre-registeted to your amazon account, and there is no password needed, or even an option to add one, for purchases. so sharing this tablet can be very risky. It should be used by the owner only because of this.

Invizibleyez said,
Well, if you looked into owning A kindle fire at all, you should know some very important things. It comes pre-registeted to your amazon account, and there is no password needed, or even an option to add one, for purchases. so sharing this tablet can be very risky. It should be used by the owner only because of this.

can't come preregistered to your account if you buy it in the store

neufuse said,

can't come preregistered to your account if you buy it in the store


it is possible to de-authorize it, but what doesn't it do then?

Isn't this the same with Blackberry? As I understood it all their browsing is cached in the Blackberry servers and hence when they went kaput the other month nobody could do anything?

bushbrother said,
Isn't this the same with Blackberry? As I understood it all their browsing is cached in the Blackberry servers and hence when they went kaput the other month nobody could do anything?

Blackberry would like you to call that "prefetching and optimizing content"

neufuse said,

Blackberry would like you to call that "prefetching and optimizing content"

when all a ton of major corporations jump on amazon silk because of the high degree of privacy then they could be comparable.. until then, amazon prefetching content for people that have no idea how it is done.. RIM has to do due diligence with major corporations and governments to make sure they are actually secure.

Why do people like this even make the news? So, explain this to me mr. congressman, exactly what kind of information can they gather about a prticular individual if the Kindle fire is sitting on the coffee table where a family of 5-6 can browse at anytime as well as any guest to the house? Exactly how can they differenciate who did what?

The most they could do is "generalize" - the same anyone could do by looking in your trash can. Nothing is 100% user specific.

Rohdekill said,
Why do people like this even make the news? So, explain this to me mr. congressman, exactly what kind of information can they gather about a prticular individual if the Kindle fire is sitting on the coffee table where a family of 5-6 can browse at anytime as well as any guest to the house? Exactly how can they differenciate who did what?

The most they could do is "generalize" - the same anyone could do by looking in your trash can. Nothing is 100% user specific.

At a minimum, they will learn about the browsing habits of your family. Some people don't like that idea.

DukeEsquire said,

At a minimum, they will learn about the browsing habits of your family. Some people don't like that idea.

You mean the browsing habits of my family to which they have no clue of whom used it when - if at all....as well as any guests or friends who may/may not use it.

seems awefully generalized to me...so generalized, that the information is basically useless.

Rohdekill said,

You mean the browsing habits of my family to which they have no clue of whom used it when - if at all....as well as any guests or friends who may/may not use it.

seems awefully generalized to me...so generalized, that the information is basically useless.


There has to be SOME value to it or they wouldn't be doing it, would they?

DukeEsquire said,

At a minimum, they will learn about the browsing habits of your family. Some people don't like that idea.

You mean like congress men who are looking for escorts or presidental candidates that have mistresses that talk to them on the net? err um

DavidM said,

There has to be SOME value to it or they wouldn't be doing it, would they?

I'd say there would be a ton of value on systems which one would expect a single user for the vast majority of the time - such as cellphone browsing. Or, sites that requires a registered user (facebook). But not on a general device that is always connected (unless wi-fi disabled) that requires no password and is generally used for causal browsing by anyone holding it in their hand at the moment.

Rohdekill said,
Why do people like this even make the news? So, explain this to me mr. congressman, exactly what kind of information can they gather about a prticular individual if the Kindle fire is sitting on the coffee table where a family of 5-6 can browse at anytime as well as any guest to the house? Exactly how can they differenciate who did what?

The most they could do is "generalize" - the same anyone could do by looking in your trash can. Nothing is 100% user specific.


Well, now you're generalizing. The majority of tablets get used by individuals only, not a bunch of people. And even for those that are used by multiple people, the data collected still has a lot of value.

Not to mention, you can get a lot more useful marketing information from browsing habits than you can from people's trash.

Obviously there are plenty of people who are concerned about this. If you aren't concerned, then why even comment? Leave it for those (many) people who DO care.