U.S. Senators want to know more about Amazon One's collection of biometric data

Amazon One is a program that launched a few months back. It offers Amazon customers a new way of contactless payments in which their palm prints, credit card details, and phone numbers are collected by the company, and they just need to hover their hand over a scanner to make payments and check out of Amazon stores. The service is currently available in 59 Amazon stores with plans of expanding to more soon. However, it appears that the collection of biometric data is making some U.S. lawmakers uncomfortable, as three of them have penned a letter to Amazon, asking for more details about its program.

A palm hovering over an Amazon One scanner

The letter - which can be seen here - is addressed to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, and is signed by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Bill Cassidy, and Jon Ossoff. The lawmakers have highlighted a number of concerns related to user privacy and data security. They have also cited past incidents of Amazon offering customer data to third-parties and those about the company's devices being hacked and leaking data. The Senators have noted that while some biometric systems such as Apple's Face ID and Touch ID, as well as Samsung Pass store biometric data on the device, Amazon is uploading palm prints to the cloud which raises further questions about data security. The letter goes on to say that:

We are also concerned that Amazon may use data from Amazon One, including data from third-party customers that may purchase and use Amazon One devices, to further cement its competitive power and suppress competition across various markets.

[...] Like many companies, Amazon has been affected by hacks and vulnerabilities that have exposed sensitive information, such as user emails. Amazon’s various home device systems have leaked information or been hacked, as highlighted in a recent letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) from 48 advocacy organizations. Company whistleblowers earlier this year also raised concerns about Amazon’s security practices. Data security is particularly important when it comes to immutable customer data, like palm prints.

As such, the lawmakers have asked a bunch of questions from Amazon regarding its system. These deal with expansion plans for Amazon One, availability of customer data to third-parties, privacy protections, whether the company will use this data to personalize advertisements, storage and security of data, and more. The letter also inquires into the number of people who have signed up for Amazon One. The Senators have asked that Amazon responds to all of its concerns by August 26, but the company has declined to comment at this time.

Via: The Seattle Times

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