FTC blesses Amazon's privacy sleight-of-hand
Never say 'never'
At issue was the company's sudden decision to cease allowing customers to opt out of having their personal details shared with marketing outfits and Amazon partners. Previously, customers could opt out by sending a blank e-mail message to 'firstname.lastname@example.org'.
The word 'never', the December petition reasoned, gave customers a reasonable expectation that their opt-out decision would be honored permanently.
The FTC reply, dated 24 May by Commissioner Jodie Bernstein, regards this as a lot of theoretical nonsense.
The idea of 'material change' is crucial here -- the operative principle being, 'no harm, no foul'. Amazon officials cheerfully assured the FTC that the company would not share customer information with outsiders, and the FTC cheerfully accepted that as reason enough to drop the matter.
A win/win situation if ever there was one. ®
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