Second privacy group severs ties with Amazon

Junkbusters Corp., a privacy advocacy organization in Green Brook, N.J., has joined another privacy organization and severed all ties with over its new privacy policy.

On Sept. 1, the Seattle-based online retailer announced a new privacy policy, saying it could no longer guarantee that it wouldn't share customer information with third parties (see story).

In a letter to yesterday, Junkbusters President Jason Catlett said, "... Amazon's current privacy policy is unacceptably weak. ... [I] am cancelling my account and terminating the participation of Junkbusters Corp. in Amazon's affiliate program."

Amazon associates, or affiliates, put a link on their Web sites directing customers to Amazon's Web site and receive a referral fee each time they direct business to the online retailer.

Yesterday, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in Washington said it was cutting its ties to Amazon because of the change in its privacy policy (see story). EPIC said it would continue to sell its privacy-related books and other materials through its own Web site and look for other ways to market the information.

Amazon spokesman Bill Curry said he respected the groups' decisions, adding that EPIC and Junkbusters were just two of Amazon's 500,000 associates.

Curry defended Amazon's new privacy policy, saying it tightened up the terms of its previous, more open policy. He said with the new privacy policy, Amazon has "drastically constrained and reduced the flexibility" implied in its old policy.

"The old policy had a provision that said we don't sell, rent, lease or share information with third parties [but that Amazon] may choose to do so in the future. That's a pretty broad statement with a lot of flexibility," Curry said, adding that Amazon isn't in the business of selling customer information to third parties.

Clare Haney of the IDG News Service contributed to this report.

  • To read Computerworld's complete coverage of this issue, head to our Focus on Privacy page.

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