A new investigation from Wired describes a shocking lack of concern for customer data at e-commerce giant Amazon, where employees took advantage of the faulty system to look up celebrities’ purchases, among other breaches. It seems that despite Amazon’s professed customer-first mentality, company officials failed to prioritize securing its customers’ most personal information. Customer purchase histories were available to Amazon’s global customer service team, with little security or supervision to prevent the employees’ snooping.
One former service rep, who requested anonymity, said he remembered colleagues looking up the purchases of Kanye West and movie stars from the Avengers films, even scoping out a few dildos in a particular celebrity’s purchase log. Other staffers recalled coworkers looking up exes and girlfriends or boyfriends. “Everybody, everybody did it,” a former customer service manager says. They weren’t supposed to, of course.
Eventually, accusations of employees viewing seller data to develop Amazon’s own products prompted questions about the company’s integrity. During an antitrust hearing in 2020, former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos insisted that employees don’t access that data but said he couldn’t guarantee that the policy prohibiting employees from doing so wasn’t violated.
Wired’s investigation is a deep dive that demonstrates how your data can be at risk if a massive company mismanages internal access to it or carelessly leaves it open to outsiders. Though Amazon is often ranked one of the most trusted companies in the world, this Wired story calls into question whether it’s worthy of that trust from its customers.