Amazon Tracking Device for Kids? It’s Time to Stop Looking • Defending Children’s Health

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Last week, Bloomberg News reports that Amazon plans to release an Alexa -enabled tracking device for kids. This is the latest revelation – not on Amazon first attempt to target children with such devices – no surprise from a corporation that has watch a critical part of its business model.

As Amazon continues its relentless crusade to monopolize markets, crush rivals and extract as much data as possible from unsuspecting consumers and third-party traders, Congress and federal law enforcers need to step up to structure the corporation and prevent it from using these destructive methods. A new report by Open the Markets Institute (where I work) details how.

As of June, Amazon had 6.2 million sellers and 1.6 million active sellers, making it the largest e-commerce platform in the world. Amazon also has almost complete control of the entire market, including nearly 50% of the e-commerce market share, 90% of e-books, and 32% of cloud computing. Critically, in these markets, Amazon acts as an intermediary between different user groups – such as between customer and merchant on its Marketplace e -commerce platform.

Due to its market position, Amazon has a unique amount of control over the relationship structure between the parties and their relationships with Amazon. The corporation can use tactics that allow it to radically expand its surveillance infrastructure and strengthen its management.

Consider Amazon’s Marketplace e-commerce platform. Before a merchant can place their products on Amazon’s site, they must agree to a surfeit of requirements unilaterally imposed by Amazon in a take-it-or-leave-it manner. The same applies to potential customers. Compulsory agreements allow Amazon to collect as much as possible from merchants and consumers. These agreements thus create a backdoor for Amazon to take advantage of its surveillance infrastructure.

When users browse the Amazon Marketplace site, almost every action they take is tracked and logged on Amazon. Amazon looks at every user click, every user search, every comment submitted and every product review. Amazon even tracks the length of time a user stays on a webpage. From the purchase of a single product, Amazon can yield up to 2,000 data points.

For merchants, Amazon’s data collection operation is no different. According to a former Amazon executive, “Every time you talk to a [merchant] another chance to collect data. ”Amazon’s agreements allow the corporation to obtain information related to a product’s price, description and purchase history and frequency.

Most of the data collected by Amazon could be used to expand its monopoly power and harm independent businesses. For example, by accessing a product’s description, frequent purchases and other data points, Amazon can accurately select a product category to optimize its revenue potential. With the size of this production and distribution infrastructure, Amazon can fully copy a merchant’s products and sell them directly to consumers under its own brand.

As a result, Amazon forced third-party merchants to rely on the company for their business to help Amazon compete against themselves. Amazon’s use of surveillance infrastructures to copy products that work well for the corporation, even if the corporation is caught lying to Congress about its data harvesting methods. Amazon now serves as a seller of 94% of all batteries in its market, more than 50% of products in the clothing, footwear and jewelry categories and more than 30% in the home, garden and animals categories.

By harvesting data about each of its consumers, Amazon can even use its surveillance infrastructure to set its prices to increase the chances of a successful purchase. As such, data from every product purchase or interaction on Amazon’s site millions of merchants and consumers are forced to provide significant mini trial and error experiments for the company to make. optimize own commercial product stand, price and design.

In the past, Amazon even used its monopoly power to impose restricts price agreements that restrained traders from offering the lowest price to competing e-commerce sites.

Amazon can also adjust the search rankings of product listings to put its own items at the top of search results. Because of its constraints on the structure of its e-commerce platform, Amazon can manipulate the creation and erection of its own products (which it often does by copying merchants). This tactic deceives consumers into always thinking that search ranking is based on merit, consumer preferences, or paid promotion through advertisements.

Amazon presents consumers with a false reality about what products are shown to them, and why, while also using its control to force and intimidate consumers into buying Amazon’s own brand products. . As a result, Amazon robs consumers of the ability to choose products based on performance or ratings while artificially amplifying its own products.

Amazon’s dominance practically guarantees that it can jointly impose any new surveillance methods it performs on third-party merchants. For example, Amazon Fulfillment (FBA) is a storage, packaging, delivery and corporate customer management service offered by third -party vendors.

FBA may be seen as a generous service – but the corporate behemoth does more than offer the opportunity to make third -party entrepreneurs use the extensive infrastructure to support their operations. FBA is actually a major bat that Amazon can swing against trusted merchants.

It gives Amazon access to complex product data as well as other competitive information about how products are packaged and delivered. With nearly two -thirds of merchants relying on FBA, should an merchant try to oppose Amazon by not adopting its terms of service – no matter how competent or hard work they may be – Amazon will remove a seller from its service or arbitrarily increase shipping and delivery prices.

With much of its power, Amazon can also pick winners and losers in its Marketplace by rewarding merchants who are more loyal to it. For example, researchers have found that merchants are more likely to receive a Buy Box (a digital button that a user can add to their cart for quick and easy purchase of a product) on their product page. if the trader uses FBA.

As a result Amazon is forcing retailers into a position where they can continue to adopt Amazon’s services and rely more heavily on the company or risk discrimination or removal of the key e-commerce platform.

As details in our report, Amazon shares a host of other watch tactics, including copying competing software with the AWS cloud computing division and using Alexa speaker devices to collect user voice data. Fortunately, there are many available solutions. Antitrust regulators, enforcement and Congress have formerly used extensively there are tactics that can be used for curbing the concentrated corporate power of the American economy.

For example, Congress could enforce legislation or antitrust enforcers could introduce a lawsuit structure that would differentiate Amazon’s various divisions (such as its Marketplace and FBA divisions) into separate corporate entities. Such a cure would prevent Amazon from using its dominance to force the parties to adopt most of its services.

The Federal Trade Commission could also use its broad enforcement power to ban the kinds of coercive agreements that Amazon has imposed on sellers and consumers to obtain more favorable terms and obtain. the infinite amount of data. Congressional and federal regulators could even impose general carrier restrictions on corporate operations to prevent the company from imposing unfair terms on sellers.

Such a situation would impose additional public oversight on Amazon’s operations to ensure that Amazon’s terms are fair and reasonable for everyone seeking to use its Marketplace to sell products. Each of these solutions will help end Amazon’s surveillance practices to create a fairer, more democratic Marketplace for consumers and independent entrepreneurs.

A plethora on evidence SHOWS that Amazon is relentlessly expanding its surveillance infrastructures to monopolize markets. Now, with though children as a potential target for collecting more data, Congress and federal regulators must act to stop Amazon’s harmful practices.

Originally published on Common Dreams.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Children’s Health Defense.

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