Customers are mostly okay with letting Amazon track them. It’s the way of the world, they say.
State governments aren’t so lenient. Texas, Illinois and Washington have passed laws regulating how companies use customers’ biometric data.
A shareholder’s lawsuit says Amazon must pay closer attention to these new state laws.
Amazon really knows its customers. It knows their faces, their voices, and sometimes their palm prints.
That kind of tracking is obvious at Amazon Go stores, where customers can sign in with their palms and cameras in the ceiling track customer faces.
It’s part of what makes the company’s “Just Walk Out” technology work so well. The company tracks individuals through the store, so it knows who picks up a sandwich and who picks up a soda.
Leann and Wes Wu were getting lunch at the new Go store in Mill Creek on Friday. They said they’re OK with Amazon storing their biometric data.
“It’s kind of the price we pay for the convenience,” Leann Wu said.
She said the cameras in the ceiling may be invasive, but they help Amazon serve its customers.
“I think we would hope that that data is protected, or discarded after use, and not stored for a long time,” added her husband, Wes Wu.
Many customers say, while they may not be completely comfortable with having their biometric data tracked, the practice is common these days and just part of interacting with the modern world..
Several Mill Creek high schoolers visiting Amazon Go for lunch said their phones already track their faces. So, what’s the problem with Amazon doing so, too?
Kristen Honeycutt expressed the same feeling as she strapped her toddler in the backseat of her SUV outside the new Go store.
“I feel like a lot of companies have my face by now, too,” Honeycutt said. “It seems to be the norm, of data collection. So I don’t know how to avoid it.”
Customers may be okay with it, but increasingly, states are not.
In 2017, Washington became the third state, after Illinois and Texas, to regulate how companies use biometric data. Washington’s law requires that customers give consent for Amazon to use, sell and retain that data. Companies must get consent again when they change their policy, or plan some new use for that data.
The lawsuit, brought by Amazon shareholder Stephen Nelson in late April, says Amazon isn’t following these new state laws. The lawsuit says that this puts the company and its shareholders at financial risk.
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