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Would You Sell Amazon Your Palm Print For $10?

Amazon is offering customers a $10 USD credit incentive to register their palm prints with its Amazon One biometric identity service, in a move slammed by privacy advocates.

Used in a number of Amazon’s retail stores, the Amazon One technology scans and records a user’s palm print for contactless ID verification, which it says can be used in applications such as retail checkouts, loyalty programs, or badging into work.

The new promotion is offering US customers an incentive to sign up for Amazon One and log their palm prints in the form of $10 Amazon credit; this would provide Amazon with another data point to help track customers for applications such as advertising and shopping recommendations.

In an email to tech news site TechCrunch, which broke the story, Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Technology Oversight Project, rang alarm bells about the “dystopian” privacy implications of this technology and promotion.

“Biometric data is one of the only ways that companies and governments can track us permanently. You can change your name, you can change your Social Security number, but you can’t change your palm print.

“The more we normalise these tactics, the harder they will be to escape. If we don’t [draw a] line in the sand here, I am very fearful what our future will look like,” he said.

Amazon has tried to assuage privacy concerns, saying that customers can delete their palm data at any time and it will automatically be purged if not used for two years. In a blog post launching the technology last September, Dilip Kumar, Vice President, Physical Retail & Technology at Amazon, said the platform was designed to be highly secure.

“For example, 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 in the cloud where we create your palm signature,” he said.

There are currently no physical Amazon stores in Australia, and it is not yet known if the online retail giant plans to bring its palm reader technology here.

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