Amazon Investigates Reports of Data Leaks
Amazon’s surging volume of third-party merchants increases product variety and keeps prices low. However, it also leads to extremely fierce competition, driving many companies to desperate, and often illegal, measures in order to survive.
Currently, Amazon is investigating allegations that some of its employees in the US and China are leaking data to merchants in return for cash payments, according to the Wall Street Journal. Such merchants have paid up to $2,000 in order to obtain internal sales data and reviewers' email addresses.
Usually merchants would use this data to email the customers, attempting to persuade them to either change or remove a bad review. In many cases, the merchants would simply pay Amazon employees more to delete negative reviews completely.
In addition to biasing the reviews, merchants also use this data to gain insight into customers' shopping habits, popular keywords, and other details that would have otherwise been kept confidential. Consequently, merchants can rewrite product descriptions and ads to increase the chances of their products rising to a more conspicuous position.
Amazon has reportedly taken actions against these violations of privacy, including a recent executive swap in China to reduce bribery. "We hold our employees to a high ethical standard and anyone in violation of our Code faces discipline, including termination and potential legal and criminal penalties," Amazon claimed in a statement. "In addition, we have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behavior, we will take swift action against them, including terminating their selling accounts, deleting reviews, withholding funds, and taking legal action."
Since 2015, Amazon has filed thousands of legal complaints against merchants involved in creating fake product reviews on its website, according to CNET.