Three U.S. senators, including Democrat Amy Klobuchar who chairs the Senate Committee’s antitrust panel, wrote a letter to Amazon.com expressing concerns about the palmprint recognition system, Klobuchar’s office said Friday.
Amazon began rolling out biometric technology at its Whole Foods stores in Seattle in April, allowing shoppers to pay for items with a scan of their palm. The system, called Amazon One, allows customers to link a credit card to their palm print.
Klobuchar, who was joined by Senators Bill Cassidy, a Republican, and Jon Ossoff, a Democrat, expressed concerns in Thursday’s letter about both privacy and competition related to Amazon One.
“Our concerns about user privacy are reinforced by evidence that Amazon has shared voice data with third-party contractors and allegations that Amazon has violated biometric privacy laws,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.
“We are also concerned that Amazon may use data from Amazon One, including data from third-party customers who may purchase and use Amazon One devices, to further strengthen its competitiveness and suppress competition in various markets,” they wrote.
Lawmakers asked Amazon about plans to expand Amazon One and who they sold or licensed the technology to. They also asked how many people had signed up for it, how the data is used, and whether it will ever be linked to facial recognition systems.
Amazon declined to comment, but pointed to an April 21 blog post that said it was “in active discussions with several potential customers.”
It went on to say that Amazon One is designed to be “very secure”.
“The Amazon One device is protected by multiple security checks and palm images are never stored on the Amazon One device. Instead, the images are encrypted and sent to a highly secured area that we built in the cloud specifically for Amazon One,” says the blog post said.
© Thomson Reuters 2021