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Amazon Wants Your Palm Prints but Lawmakers are Asking Why

(Business Insider) – A bipartisan trio of senators is questioning Amazon about its collection of biometric data.

In a letter sent to Amazon’s new CEO, Andy Jassy, Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Jon Ossof and Republican Senator Bill Cassidy asked him to explain how the company will expand the use of Amazon One, its palm-scanner, and how it will use the data it collects.

“Amazon’s expansion of biometric data collection through Amazon One raises serious questions about Amazon’s plans for this data and its respect for user privacy, including about how Amazon may use the data for advertising and tracking purposes,” they wrote.

Amazon introduced its palm-scanning product, which can be used for people to identify themselves or make a payment, in September last year. It’s since expanded to nearly 60 Amazon Go convenience stores, Whole Foods, and other Amazon retail stores, and the e-commerce giant plans to expand its use to things like entering stadiums and badging into work, according to Dilip Kumar, vice president of Amazon’s physical retail and technology.

“Just hover to enter, identify, and pay. Simply by being you,” its website states.

The senators also voiced concerns over data security.

Unlike Apple’s Face ID and Touch ID or Samsung Pass, which store biometric information on a user’s device, Amazon One uploads it to the cloud, potentially exposing that information to security risks.

Amazon has faced scrutiny over user privacy in the past, grappling several lawsuits and class-actions that allege the company violated biometric privacy laws by sharing voice data with third-parties.

Users can opt to delete their biometric data, according to the Amazon One FAQ page. Amazon declined to comment.

The company began offering a $10 credit for new users who enroll their palm prints in the program — a move as privacy advocates decried it as a cheap tactic to incentivize people to hand over sensitive personal data, as reported by TechCrunch.

Sens. Klobuchar, Ossof, and Cassidy additionally said they worried that Amazon might use the biometric data to “further cement its competitive power and suppress competition across various markets.”

Amazon, as well as other Big Tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple, have been under fire over antitrust concerns by the government. Sen. Klobuchar has especially been a leading critic of Big Tech, introducing an antitrust bill in February that, if passed, could fine the companies up to 15% of their annual revenue.

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