8/12/2006

Amazon Proposes Using Private Customer Info for ‘Gift Clustering’

Filed under: — By Aviran Mordo @ 8:09 pm

The Santas on Amazon may soon know if intended gift recipients have been not only naughty or nice, but also whether they’re Muslim, Gay and Unemployed.

Amazon.com filed a patent application on Aug. 10 for a process that would allow Amazon customers to use the retail Web site to gather information on other customers, including “birthday, interests, occupation, education level, income level, location, race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation.”

That information would be obtained by Amazon through several means, including “from a user profile for the recipient, from past ordering patterns of the recipient or from publicly accessible databases” and Amazon would then make recommendations based on “appropriate recipients for the items (e.g., religion and race),” the patent filing said.

Amazon officials have been careful to stress that the company has no current plans to deploy such a system.

It’s also fair to point out that large companies typically file a huge number of such patent applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, to protect their intellectual property and, more importantly, to preserve their future options. It’s not unusual for a large company to have drawers full of patent applications that it will never use.

That said, the Amazon filing is not likely to sit well with privacy advocates.

Source: eWeek

 

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