Popular browser extension Honey finds itself under attack by Amazon after the e-commerce giant started showing a security warning to users who have the extension installed.
The warning appeared at the top of the page stating “Honey tracks your private shopping behavior, collects data like your order history and items saved, and can read or change any of your data on any website you visit. To keep your data private and secure, uninstall this extension immediately. Learn how to uninstall [link to instruction page]. Please note that all the same Amazon offers, deals and coupons are available without this extension installed.”
Honey is a popular browser extension and mobile app that helps shoppers save money by showing them lower-priced listings of the same item on other websites. It also aggregates coupon codes and applies them for you. Finally, it also tracks item pricing across time to protect you from fake discounts and alerts you to low prices on items you're watching.
As part of their pitch, Honey has always claimed not to track users indiscriminately, claiming to make their money instead from the online stores that it cross-promotes when suggesting lower-priced listings. A relevant knowledge base article on their website acknowledges that they “read some data on the shopping site you're on,” but “To be clear, the Honey extension does NOT collect any information from your search engine history, emails, or any website that’s not a retail site.”
Quite rich, a company that wants to put a live mic in my house so I can order soap flakes warning me about privacy.
— Kenneth Aaron (@KenAaron) December 20, 2019
At the end of November, PayPal purchased Honey in a $4 billion deal. Amazon, being the world's largest online retailer, benefits the least from Honey's cross-promotion and seems threatened by the powers joining forces, so that could be the reason for their attack. But there is also an argument to be made that PayPal will benefit from purchase patterns and price tracking data that Honey has obtained.
Overall, it is fairly amusing to see Amazon, one of the main culprits of analytics and online surveillance, accusing a browser extension of what it has always done. Pot calling the kettle black, much?