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Amazon's palm print recognition raises concern among U.S. senators

Published 08/13/2021, 01:43 PM
Updated 08/13/2021, 02:56 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Woman with smartphone is seen in front of displayed Amazon logo in this illustration taken, July 30, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Three U.S. senators, including Democrat Amy Klobuchar who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel, wrote a letter to Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) to express concern about its palm print recognition system, Klobuchar's office said Friday.

Amazon began rolling out biometric technology at its Whole Foods stores around Seattle in April, letting shoppers pay for items with a scan of their palm. The system, called Amazon One, lets customers link a credit card to their palm print.

Klobuchar, who was joined by Senators Bill Cassidy, a Republican, and Jon Ossoff, a Democrat, expressed concern in the letter dated Thursday about both privacy and competition related to Amazon One.

"Our concerns about user privacy are heightened by evidence that Amazon shared voice data with third-party contractors and allegations that Amazon has violated biometric privacy laws," the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

"We are also concerned that Amazon may use data from Amazon One, including data from third-party customers that may purchase and use Amazon One devices, to further cement its competitive power and suppress competition across various markets," they wrote. 

The lawmakers asked Amazon about plans to expand Amazon One, and to whom they had sold or licensed the technology. They also asked how many people had signed up for it, how the data is used and if it is ever paired with facial recognition systems.

Amazon declined comment but pointed to a blog post dated April 21, which said that it was in "active discussions with several potential customers."

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Woman with smartphone is seen in front of displayed Amazon logo in this illustration taken, July 30, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

It further said that Amazon One was designed to be "highly secure."

"The Amazon One device is protected by multiple security controls, and palm images are never stored on the Amazon One device. Rather, the images are encrypted and sent to a highly secure area we custom-built for Amazon One in the cloud," the blog post said.

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