Amazon Could Be the Next Big Tech Firm in the Crosshairs

For some, 2018 has been an exceptional year with great business growth. For others, it has been less than satisfactory. The biggest company that comes to mind is Facebook. In March, the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, which implicated the company in data harvesting activities for political purposes.

Regulators were quick to intervene, including both the US Senate and the UK Parliament. Recent reports state that the UK Parliament has seized Facebook internal company papers linked to an ongoing investigation into the matter. And Facebook may not be the only company to find itself in hot water. Concerns have also been raised about Amazon.

The problem? As of now, all the big tech firms currently process consumer data inside a black box. Even before the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal, Google found itself under the microscope due to Edward Snowden’s disclosures of NSA spying activities. Amazon could easily become the next big tech firm that finds itself in the middle of a data privacy storm.

The biggest issue of all is the current tension between America and China. America’s biggest marketplace is heavily dependent on Chinese sellers – sellers who are unwittingly allowing some of China’s biggest payment processors access to Amazon customers’ personal data.

A global marketplace, Amazon is easy for virtually anyone to become a seller on the platform. When an order is placed via Amazon, personal data including name, address, and basic credit card information and purchase details are passed through to the seller. In turn, the seller must have a receiving account. Amazon’s requirement is that the receiving account is linked to the country where the seller is operating.

Many Chinese sellers use big payment processing companies based in China, like Lianlian and Pingpong. This is where the issue of data privacy occurs. To plug into their Amazon account, a seller has a couple of options. The highest level of access is using the seller’s secret key; this gives access to the same data as the seller themselves (including customer data of buyers who have ordered from the seller).

For those of us who assume Amazon is the only company receiving and processing consumer data, this comes as a shock. Even more alarming, it has been implied that some sellers have disclosed their secret keys. This means payment providers – including huge Chinese companies – now have access to customer data of an unquantified number of American Amazon users.

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Author Bio:Payment industry expert Taylor Cole is a passionate merchant account expert who understands the complicated world of accepting credit and debit cards at your business. His understanding of the industry has helped thousands of business owners save money and time.

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