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Amazon does privacy U-turn

Breaks purchasing circle after civil liberties uproar

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Amazon.com has completed an embarrassing policy U-turn after outraging civil liberties groups in the US. The online bookseller's decision to create "Purchase Circles", which reveal what different groups of people have bought providing market intelligence and trends in purchasing habits, has come under heavy fire from critics. According to a statement issued last night, individual customers can now opt out of their purchase circle. Amazon said it would also remove a company-specific purchase circle at the company's request. Despite making the changes, Amazon still maintains that its purchase circles do not breach personal privacy. It claims that in order to preserve anonymity, it deliberately did not compile data for groups of less than 200 people. "Privacy is of utmost importance to our customers and to us," said Warren Adams, the retailer's director of product development. "While the vast majority of feedback from our customers indicates that Purchase Circles have been well received... some customers have expressed concerns, so we're letting people decide individually," he said. A spokeswoman for Amazon.co.uk said the UK branch did not currently have any purchase circles in place. She said she was unaware of any plans to do so. ®

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