FTC Considers Privacy Violation Charges Against Amazon

Washington, DC, December 6, 2000 – The Competitive Enterprise Institute today warned the commissioners of the Federal Trade Commission not to let current high-profile privacy complaints against Amazon.com push them into expanding federal privacy regulations.  While many privacy advocates have disagreed with Amazon’s actions, their complaints make clear that they are less worried about consumer choice than they are the fact that not everyone shares their approach to the issue.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />


When Amazon.com recently changed its privacy policy to no longer allow customers to “opt-out” of personal data collection, some privacy advocates cried foul, and called for the FTC to investigate the legitimacy of Amazon’s actions.  But in truth, Amazon had committed no misdeed – it emailed each one of its customers to inform them of the company’s decision.  Those emails in turn allowed the recipients to make their own decisions about what they valued more as consumers – complete online privacy or the personalized details and offers that Amazon regularly offers its registered users.


The goal of any prudent approach to privacy should be to allow consumers the greatest choice possible, not to force all retailers and service providers into the one policy that a self-appointed group of professional activists thinks is best.  Companies set their privacy policies, and occasionally change them, for a number of reasons.  As long as customers have access to the information they need to make an informed choice, that choice should be no business of the FTC or anyone else.



CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information, please contact Richard Morrison, associate director of media relations, at 202-331-1010, ext. 266.