In a bid to make shopping more convenient, Amazon last year introduced a new palm scanning technology for use in its stores called Amazon One. Now US senators are keen to know how Amazon is ensuring the biometric data required for Amazon One to work is being kept secure.
As Techcrunch reports, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Jon Ossoff (D-GA) wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, “regarding concerns about Amazon’s recent expansion and promotion of Amazon One, a palm print recognition system, and to request information about the actions Amazon is taking to protect user data privacy and security.”
Companies storing the biometric data of their users isn’t a new concept, but existing systems such as Apple’s Face ID only store the collected biometric information on a user’s device. Amazon One can’t work that way because the palm signature needs to be available at multiple stores, so it has to be transferred and stored on an Amazon server.
The letter goes on to point out that Amazon is “incentivizing consumers to share their biometric information” by offering them $10 of promotional credit and that the company has made it clear they want to expand Amazon One to third-party stores. This “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.”
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The senator’s concerns are well-founded and need to be addressed because identity theft can ruin your life and biometric data can’t be changed like a password can. When Amazon One was first announced, Amazon made it clear the captured palm images are encrypted and “sent to a highly secure area we custom-built in the cloud where we create your palm signature.” Jassy will need to respond to this letter sharing a lot more detail on the security being used in order to satisfy the senators (and consumers) it’s completely safe.