An investigation by Wired revealed that Amazon allowed junior employees to access the shopping histories of celebrities including Kanye West and The Avengers actors. The online shopping giant denied the allegations, insisting it protects customers’ data.
According to Wired, thousands of employees had access to the search histories of Amazon shoppers and could look up the shopping history of anyone they liked. The purpose of the system was efficient service. However, some employees abused the privilege to spy on the shopping lists of celebrities.
Abusing the system for personal uses was against the rules, but, according to a former employee, “everybody did it.”
An unnamed former employee said that his colleagues looked up the shopping histories of Kanye West, stars in Marvel’s Avengers, and an unnamed celebrity who they found had bought several sex toys.
Amazon’s former chief of information security Gary Gagnon described the system as “free for all,” adding that it left the retailer vulnerable to “international threat actors.” He confirmed that Amazon had no security measure that would prevent staff from abusing such privileges.
However, Amazon denied the allegations, stating it has strict policies to protect users’ data. The company “strongly rejected” the allegation that the abuse of access by employees was common.
A spokesperson for the company said: “Across 25 years in business, Amazon has an exceptional track record of protecting customer data and has invested billions of dollars to build systems and processes to keep data secure.
“We have relentlessly high standards for security and privacy, and we continuously assess and implement new measures when we see opportunity to further strengthen our protections.
“The claims made in the Wired story are based on information that is outdated and out-of-context and have absolutely no bearing on Amazon’s current security posture.”