Amazon ad verification program buys access to your phone's soul for $2 a month

Amazon ad verification program buys access to your phone’s soul for $2 a month

In this photo illustration an Amazon logo seen displayed on

Amazon has come under fire for how it handles user and partner data, but that hasn’t stopped it from launching a program that openly pays to track smartphone traffic from opt-in participants. The ad verification system is similar to discontinued programs from other tech giants, like Google, and gives Amazon access to members’ phone data to learn how they interact with ads.

As Insider reported on Monday, Amazon is now offering ad verification payment to members of the Amazon Shopper Panel, an invite-only rewards program available to US and UK Amazon customers.

According to an image shared on the Shopper Panel’s website, users can opt-in to ad verification, which allows Amazon to “confirm which Amazon ads they’ve seen on their device. This may include Amazon’s own advertising. from Amazon or advertisements from third-party companies that advertise through Amazon Ads.”

A simple quick toggle allows Amazon to spy on your phone.

A simple quick toggle allows Amazon to spy on your phone.

Those who register authorize the Amazon Shopper Panel App Store and Play Store applications to “collect and use information” about the websites and time of day you display advertisements on your smartphone.

“Your participation will help brands offer better products and make Amazon ads more relevant,” says Amazon’s Shopper Panel page.

Amazon’s broader Shopper Panel program allows invited participants to earn monthly rewards by sending Amazon photos of recent receipts and completing surveys. The program is only available to a “limited number of Amazon customers,” but if you’re not invited, you can join a waitlist.

Little money, considerable risk

Amazon’s ad verification program sees the company being somewhat open to breaking into members’ phones and even offering compensation. But if $2 doesn’t sound like a lot of money (it doesn’t), that sounds like a real silly change considering the general privacy risks associated with handing over one of your personal devices to them. more, if not the most used. to any company, not to mention one such as Amazon.

According to Amazon’s Buy Panel FAQ, attendees can “withdraw consent and delete your personal information associated with the Amazon Buy Panel,” including ad verification information, at any time. And Amazon says it won’t share personal information acquired through the Shopper Panel with anyone else.

Questions about the program’s privacy constructs by Insider have been directed to Amazon’s Privacy Notice. It says it may use your personal information for things like “interest-based ads” and recommendation features. Additionally, the privacy notice affirms that Amazon only shares personal information with a third party when a business transaction requires it or to comply with the law.

Amazon, like many tech giants, doesn’t have the cleanest reputation when it comes to keeping people up to date on what happens to the data Amazon has accumulated on them. As a recent example, this summer it emerged that Amazon’s home security company, Ring, had provided users’ data to police without their consent. And this spring, the House Judiciary Committee found that Amazon lied to Congress about how it uses third-party seller data (Amazon allegedly uses data to manipulate competitive advantages).

Still, Amazon maintains a relentless push for data, with some growing concern, as Insider noted, about future efforts, including a deal to acquire the iRobot home-mapping robot vacuum and repeated interest in healthcare. health.

Sound familiar?

If the past is any indicator, Amazon’s paid smartphone monitoring program may face resistance.

Google tried a similar tactic in 2012. The Google Screenwise program offered members Amazon gift cards in exchange for the ability for a browser extension or even hardware to monitor their home network traffic.

And in 2016, Facebook launched a program that offered gift cards to 13- to 25-year-olds in exchange for downloading an ever-vigilant VPN app.

Both programs eventually raised privacy concerns, while their apps raised eyebrows for circumventing Apple’s App Store rules. Both had died in 2020.

With previous opt-in monitoring programs reaching such terminations, Amazon’s new ad verification program will likely face similar scrutiny.

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