Feeds

Amazon 'plans world's biggest personal data stash'

And tries to patent it too

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Amazon.com is investing in IP to create the largest database of personal information ever gathered by an online retailer, according to a report in its local paper.

The database would, the Seattle Post Intelligencer suggests, mingle information on sexual orientation and race, as well as purchasing habits.

And to prove it's serious, the newspaper reports, it's patenting the idea.

Patent application 20060178946 ("Providing gift clustering functionality to assist a user in ordering multiple items for a recipient") was filed last December and published last week, although it has yet to be granted.

The patent application is simply the latest in a long line of database mining techniques for online ordering filed by Amazon.com, and is no more intrusive than many other over-reaching patent applications. Amazon has patented, or attempted to patent, search histories, gift certificates, and customer reviews. In the aftermath of AOL's release of search queries from over half a million users recently, it is however, a lot more topical.

A suggested implementation of Application '946 includes data such as "education levels, genders, income levels, interests, races, ethnicities, religions, occupations, sexual orientations", which could not be accurately inferred from a user's purchasing history, and could only be gained from external sources or information volunteered by the Amazon user.

Amazon told the PI it has no "immediate intention" to create such a database.

Privacy groups in the US last week renewed their calls for search engines and commercial retailers to wipe their databases clean. They were joined by Sen Edward Markey (D.Ma) who earlier this year tabled legislation to outlaw data retention, as cable companies are already obliged to do.

The bill, HR 4731, The Eliminate Warehousing of Consumer Internet Data Act of 2006, has won little support in Congress. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.