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Amazon Tablet/Browser Combo Kindles Markey Privacy Concerns

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has questions for about the impact of its new Kindle Fire tablet and must-use browser, Silk, on the collection of information about users' surfing and buying habits.

That came Friday (Oct. 14) in the wake of a New York Times story raising that issue.

"Consumers may buy the new Kindle Fire to read 1984, but they may not realize that the tablet's 'Big Browser' may [be] watching their every keystroke when they are online," said Markey, co-chair of the Congressional Privacy Caucus.

In the letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Markey said that he was concerned that the combination of the tablet and browser would give Amazon an "extraordinary amount" of info on every web click of its customers.

Markey wants answers to the following questions by Nov. 4:

  1. What information does Amazon plan to collect about users of Kindle Fire?
  2. How does Amazon intend to use this information? Does Amazon plan to sell, rent or otherwise make available this customer information to outside companies? If yes, to which firms?
  3. How will Amazon convey its privacy policy to the Fire and Silk users? Please provide Amazon's privacy policy covering the Kindle Fire, if available.
  4. If Amazon plans to collect information about its users' Internet browsing habits, will customers be able to affirmatively opt in to participate in the data sharing program?"

Markey has been one of the most active Hill members in following up on reports of online info collection issues/problems and data breaches (including with Facebook and Google). His co-chairman, Joe Barton (R-Tex.), during an online privacy hearing this week, said the almost weekly revelations about online tracking or breaches is reason for strong, comprehensive consumer privacy legislation.