Amazon’s latest idea, a cashback rewards scheme, gives you the chance to get a little cash back on select purchases at your favorite stores. But behind the slightly lucrative facade of the concept lies a darker motive: data collection.
The feature called Shopping List Savings is now available in the Alexa app. To do this, open the app before you go shopping, browse the current manufacturer offers and add them to your shopping list. You then shop at your favorite store (anywhere that gives you a detailed receipt), purchase those items, and then scan the receipt and product barcodes to complete the sale offer redemption.
And within 24-48 hours (maybe up to a week), your cashback will appear directly on your Amazon gift card, which you can then use to purchase any eligible items on Amazon. Sounds easy right? Well, not exactly.
While you might snag a few bucks (or cents) here and there for random purchases, it’s not quite the offer you might want to sign up for. Why? Via this app, Amazon receives extensive information free of charge and regularly, not only on the purchase data of the participants, but also on the prices in these other shops.
To be clear, you must take a photo of your entire receipt every time you wish to redeem any of these offers, and you will share it with Amazon. The company not only knows the prices for the products you tagged in the app, but also for every other item you bought that day. That’s more data on what other places charge for items and it is more data about your personal shopping habits.
The company does not share any further details about how it will process this data or if it intends to anonymize the data. While there are other apps and services that offer similar benefits (and ingest similar datasets as well), this effort by Amazon is particularly troubling, as Amazon makes no promises about anonymizing your data or sharing what it intends to do with it. Among other things, this could help Amazon undercut prices at other stores and build a profile on the types of things you (or people like you) buy at a particular store.
It’s… kind of creepy. All we can say is make sure you’re comfortable with this trade-off before using the Shopping List Savings program.
Source: Amazon via Engadget
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