Feeds

Amazon 'plans world's biggest personal data stash'

And tries to patent it too

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.