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Amazon Employee Shared Customer Email Addresses With Third-Party Seller

Illustration for article titled Amazon Employee Shared Customer Email Addresses With Third-Party Seller
Photo: Cliff Owen (AP)

According to an automated email distributed this afternoon, an Amazon employee was fired for sharing customer email addresses with an unknown seller. It reads:

Hello,

We are writing to let you know that your email address was disclosed by an Amazon employee to a third-party seller on our website in violation of our policies. As a result, the employee has been terminated and we are supporting law enforcement in their prosecution. The third-party seller has been blocked from selling on our website. No other information related to your account was shared.

This is not a result of anything you have done, and there is no need for you to take any action.

Thank you,

Amazon Customer Service

Amazon declined to comment on the scale of email addresses shared, or the identity of the employee or merchant. Likewise, an Amazon spokesperson would not address whether the affected customers had ever purchased something from the merchant in question—which, as the email states, has been booted from the platform.

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Reporting by the Wall Street Journal last month found that sellers had been offering data to sellers, in some cases in exchange for bribes. In this instance, Amazon contends that no information beyond email addresses was given to this seller.

Senior reporter. Tech + labor /// bgmwrites@gmail.com Keybase: keybase.io/bryangm Securedrop: http://gmg7jl25ony5g7ws.onion/

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DISCUSSION

Dr Mrs The Monarch

I can’t believe I’m about to “but” data theft, but... sellers should have had access to customer emails in the Amazon ecosystem. The way Amazon forces customers and third-party sellers to communicate objectively sucks for everyone involved. Returns and shipping issues would be easier to handle for sellers and customers alike without having to play telephone through Amazon.

And for the record, the reason Amazon set up their system the way it is isn’t to protect people’s email addresses, but to hobble potential competition.

Of course, this is probably some asshole actually selling black market customer data to non-third-party sellers, not improve the service environment. (Because people are awful.)