FTC says Amazon did not deceive customers with privacy policy

Saturday, May 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SEATTLE (AP) _ Responding to complaints from two Internet privacy watchdog groups, the Federal Trade Commission said Friday that Internet retailer Amazon.com didn't deceive its customers when it made changes to its privacy policy.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center and Junkbusters Corp. filed a complaint with the FTC in December, after Amazon revised its policy and told customers it considered their information a company asset that could be sold if Amazon were to go out of business or sell a division.

That personal information includes names, shipping and billing addresses, credit card numbers and e-mail addresses. It can also include employers, gift wish lists, Social Security numbers and photographs for customers who taken advantage of special personalization features.

Amazon also removed an option that let customers decline sharing their personal data with marketing companies and retailers partnered with Amazon. Previously, customers could opt out by sending an e-mail.

Representatives from EPIC and Junkbusters complained that, under the new rules, those who had made that option could now have their personal information shared anyway.

In a letter to the EPIC and Junkbusters, the FTC's Jodie Bernstein said that although the revisions to Amazon's privacy policy ``are subject to various interpretations,'' Amazon officials had assured the FTC it would not share the customers' information.