Here’s the thing. Online privacy is becoming an increasing concern for many people. It certainly is for governments across Europe too, with many handing out fines to big tech companies who step over the privacy line.

Of course big tech recognizes this and understands that growing privacy demands could ultimately impact the bottom line, so they are making changes and also blowing a horn for privacy rights. Or are they? On the surface it would appear to be so, at least to some degree.

Well why not put it to the test by requesting all the data that Amazon, for instance, holds on you? You would then get a good sense of what data these companies are collecting.

We’ve mentioned Amazon but sweeping data collection is far from an Amazon-specific problem. It’s pretty much standard when it comes to large tech companies. Even Apple, a company that shouts a lot about user privacy, has faced criticism in the past for recording Siri interactions and sharing them with third-party contractors.

Take a peek at what data Amazon has on you. It’s easy to do. Its enlightening and spooky. Follow these simple steps:
  • Go to Amazon’s Help page. You’ll have to sign into your Amazon account.
  • Go to Security & Privacy > Privacy > How Do I Request My Data?
  • Once there, click the “Request My Data” link.
  • From the dropdown menu, choose the data you want from Amazon.
  • If you want everything, choose “Request All Your Data.”
  • Hit “Submit Request”
  • You’ll then receive an email with a validation link you need to press to confirm your request.
And then just kick back and wait. It might take some time, weeks in some cases, but it will arrive.
  • When it does arrive you’ll need to brace yourself. If you have requested ‘all your data’ you could be in for a shock at the quantity.
  • Just about everything you do on, with, and around an Amazon product or service is logged and recorded. Of course you might not be surprised to learn that when you visit Amazon’s website, the company logs your browsing history and shopping data.
  • But it goes far beyond this. When you watch video content through its platforms, it records all of that information, too.
  • Things get even creepier with other Amazon products. If you read books on a Kindle, Amazon records your reading activity, including the speed of your page turns.
  • If you have one of Amazon’s smart speakers, you’re on the record with everything you’ve ever said to the device.
  • When you ask Alexa a question or give it a command, Amazon saves the audio files for the entire interaction. If you know how to access your data, you can listen to every one of those audio files, and relive moments you may or may not have realized were recorded.
A Reuters reporter discovered that Amazon saved over 90,000 recordings over a three-and-a-half-year period. This included the reporter’s children asking Alexa questions, recordings of those same children apologizing to their parents, and, in some cases, extended conversations that were outside the scope of a reasonable Alexa query.

So yes, Amazon is surfing the privacy tide by letting you access the data it collects on you. However, the problem is, and it’s a mountainous roadblock, there’s little you can do to delete the data.

You can tweak your privacy settings to stop your devices from recording quite as much information. But the only real choice you have is to delete the entire account the data is associated with.