Privacy International slams Amazon.com data policy

Data rights watchdog Privacy International on Friday slammed changes in Amazon.com Inc.’s policies for handling personal data.

The company’s U.K. subsidiary, Amazon.co.uk, recently changed its privacy policy to warn customers that their personal data could be transferred outside the European Economic Area for processing.

Such data transfers may be in breach of European regulations on data privacy, which prohibit the transfer of personal data to jurisdictions with less strict privacy legislation, according to Simon Davies, director of Privacy International.

“It’s symptomatic of this anti-privacy disease in U.S. business, where they seem incapable of respecting customers’ rights,” Davies said in a phone interview today.

Davies wrote on Friday to Steve Frazier, managing director of Amazon.co.uk, protesting the information transfers. “I understand that data is transferred to the United States, which lacks adequate legal protection, and where typical business practices show a wanton disregard for privacy,” he wrote. A copy of his letter can be found on the Web site of U.S. privacy advocacy firm Junkbusters Corp. and will shortly be available on Privacy International’s own Web site, Davies said.

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