Senators ask Amazon how it will use palm print data from its stores (updated)

They're concerned Amazon One info could be abused for tracking purposes.


If you're concerned that Amazon might misuse palm print data from its One service, you're not alone. TechCrunch reports that Senators Amy Klobuchar, Bill Cassidy and Jon Ossoff have sent a letter to new Amazon chief Andy Jassy asking him to explain how the company might expand use of One's palm print system beyond stores like Amazon Go and Whole Foods. They're also worried the biometric payment data might be used for more than payments, such as for ads and tracking.

The politicians are concerned that Amazon One reportedly uploads palm print data to the cloud, creating "unique" security issues. The move also casts doubt on Amazon's "respect" for user privacy, the senators said.

In addition to asking about expansion plans, the senators wanted Jassy to outline the number of third-party One clients, the privacy protections for those clients and their customers and the size of the One user base. The trio gave Amazon until August 26th to provide an answer. We've asked Amazon for comment.

This won't necessarily lead to government restrictions on One and other biometric payment tech. Amazon might not get much sympathy, however. The company has offered $10 in credit to potential One users, raising questions about its eagerness to collect palm print data. This also isn't the first time Amazon has clashed with government — cities have dropped Amazon's Rekognition face detection system, and Congress has proposed face detection regulations with Rekognition in mind. It wouldn't be surprising if the One investigation eventually led to legislative action, even if the effort isn't targeted specifically at Amazon.

Update 8/13 at 11:05AM: Amazon declined to comment, but pointed to an earlier blog post where it said One palm images were never stored on-device and were sent encrypted to a "highly secure" cloud space devoted just to One content.