Feeds

Three questions that could put out Amazon's Fire

US politician probes Bezos' Silk Road

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A US congressman is pushing Amazon for details of its cloud-based browsing, Silk, specifically asking what data the company is gathering and how it intends to make use of it.

In an open letter (2-page PDF/263KB, short and to the point) Congressman Edward Markey asks Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos specifically what information is being collected by Silk, how Amazon intends to make use of it, and how the company will go about ensuring users have given explicit permission to have their behaviour monitored in this way.

That last point intimates that such permission should be explicitly requested, while Amazon was probably hoping that the usual user assent to unread Terms & Conditions would suffice.

Amazon's new Kindle Fire is an Android tablet that relies on Amazon's cloud to pre-process web content, a facility Amazon has titled "Silk". Users can opt out of Silk, but by default every click will be routed through Amazon's servers.

This is nothing new: mobile browsers such as Opera, Skyfire and Bolt all do the same thing – grabbing web content and pre-processing to optimise and compress the content prior to delivery – and all three have access to the same kind of information that Amazon Fire users will be sharing.

But none of the above have the reach, or ambition, of Amazon, which has made it clear that user profiling is very much part of its business plan. Our own Andrew Orlowski recently compared Amazon Silk to Phorm, the intercept-and-track service trialled in the UK by BT and still being deployed elsewhere, pointing out how both have the potential to invade users' privacy pretty equally.

When Phorm started collecting data, there was uproar. When Amazon announced the same thing, it seemed as if no one cared.

But at least one US congressman does, it seems, and he is expecting Jeff Bezos to explain himself by 4 November. We'll keep an eye on the matter, and look forward to sharing what comes back. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Azure TITSUP caused by INFINITE LOOP
Fat fingered geo-block kept Aussies in the dark
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
You think the CLOUD's insecure? It's BETTER than UK.GOV's DATA CENTRES
We don't even know where some of them ARE – Maude
DEATH by COMMENTS: WordPress XSS vuln is BIGGEST for YEARS
Trio of XSS turns attackers into admins
BOFH: WHERE did this 'fax-enabled' printer UPGRADE come from?
Don't worry about that cable, it's part of the config
Cloud unicorns are extinct so DiData cloud mess was YOUR fault
Applications need to be built to handle TITSUP incidents
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The hidden costs of self-signed SSL certificates
Exploring the true TCO for self-signed SSL certificates, including a side-by-side comparison of a self-signed architecture versus working with a third-party SSL vendor.