EPIC logo
December 4, 2000


-- Allege Deceptive Trade Practices and Privacy Violations by Online Merchant in US and UK --

Washington and London, December 3, 2000-- Privacy groups on both sides of the Atlantic today urged government agencies to investigate the US and UK operations of Amazon charging violations of trade practices and data protection laws.

In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and Junkbusters Corp. asked the FTC to determine whether Amazon.com (AMZN) deceived customers in the United States by changing its privacy policy to permit disclosure of personal customer information.

EPIC and Junkbusters allege that the changes are inconsistent with Amazon's previous statements that it would "never" disclose customer information to third parties and are therefore deceptive and illegal under the US FTC Act.

The groups asked the FTC (1) to prohibit Amazon from disclosing information about its customers without their prior affirmative consent, (2) to require Amazon to offer its customers the option to delete all information about their identity and purchases, and (3) to require Amazon to tell each customer on request exactly what information it has disclosed or exchanged about the customer with other companies and to provide complete access to the customer profile.

In negotiations with Junkbusters over recent months Amazon has refused these three demands. Both EPIC and Junkbusters severed their ties with Amazon on September 13 over Amazon's revised privacy policy. Junkbusters President Jason Catlett today published an open letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos summarizing the deficiencies in Amazon's position.

In another letter released today, Privacy International, a London-based human rights group, asked the UK Data Protection Commissioner to halt Amazon's UK affiliate from processing customer data until it complies with UK data protection law. Privacy International director Simon Davies charged that the company is "in willful violation of several requirements of the Act," including the obligation to show its UK customers all information held about them, and to delete it on request. Davies also objected to Amazon's transfer of customer data from the UK to the US in a letter September 14.

Marc Rotenberg, Executive Director of EPIC, said, "The United States and the United Kingdom have established laws to safeguard the rights of consumers. We are asking the FTC and the Data Protection Commissioner to ensure that the right of privacy will be respected in the online world."

Copies of the letters and other relevant documents are available at http://www.junkbusters.com/amazon.html on the Web.

- 30 -