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Congressmen Worried About Amazon Silk Privacy Issues

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the not-that-they-know-what-those-issues-are dept.

Networking 148

suraj.sun sends this quote from an article at Ars: "Congress is trying to wrap its collective head around Amazon's new Silk Web browser. At a privacy hearing yesterday, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) expressed outrage at the way Silk's 'split' design can funnel all user browsing data through Amazon's backend servers. 'My staff yesterday told me that one of our leading Internet companies, Amazon, is going to create their own server and their own system and they're going to force everybody that uses Amazon to go through their server and they're going to collect all this information on each person who does that without that person's knowledge. Enough is enough.' Today came a similar shot from the other side of the aisle, with Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) dashing off a letter (PDF) to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos about the same privacy concerns. 'Consumers may buy the new Kindle Fire to read 1984, but they may not realize that the tablet's "Big Browser" may be watching their every keystroke when they are online,' Markey said in a statement."

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148 comments

If this is an issue... (4, Interesting)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724510)

...then where is all the outrage over Facebook tracking you even when you're not signed in to Facebook? [bitterwallet.com] Why now, in other words, and why Amazon? How do they compare to what Facebook, Google, Apple, and others already do now?

Re:If this is an issue... (1)

Zancarius (414244) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724596)

...then where is all the outrage over Facebook tracking you even when you're not signed in to Facebook? Why now, in other words, and why Amazon? How do they compare to what Facebook, Google, Apple, and others already do now?

Amazon mustn't have bought them off.

Re:If this is an issue... (2, Insightful)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724682)

I have a sneaking suspicion that this has a lot less to do with privacy, and a lot more to do with the sales tax fight. Guess they'd better add a few more zeros to their "lobbying" budget. Either that or they're not honoring the unwritten "matching donations" rule that requires Big Business to pay off both parties equally.

Re:If this is an issue... (1)

Neptunes_Trident (1452997) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725096)

This, Tax issue, And perhaps the data Amazon is collecting is not being shared with the government.

Concern about companies that don't collude with government to track and streamline targeted life oppression upon the public, groups or individuals.

Re:If this is an issue... (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725538)

Well there's a few other firms doing the same thing. Opera [wikipedia.org] for one. (read the section mentioning the "turbo" servers)

And every company that hasn't yet heard of split vpn routing does it for their employees.

Re:If this is an issue... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37725510)

Politicians get grumpy when they don't feel they have a say in the innovation and creation that goes on in society and the marketplace of business interaction. Their own mediocrity and uselessness shows when they have to live vicariously through people who are actually creating things. It would be sad, obnoxious and pathetic if they didn't have armies, police, jails and courts.

Re:If this is an issue... (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724654)

And why is it a congressional issue? I think those lazy bastards have some other more pressing issues to look into... like how to get America working again.

Re:If this is an issue... (5, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724840)

Uhhhh - yeah, I think they have bigger fish to fry in congress. But, this really is a congressional issue. Privacy has been encroached on for a couple of decades now. Especially with the un-Patriot act, and all the storms in teacups with the "terrorists". Yes, it's time for congress to address the issue of privacy for private citizens. Facebook, Amazon, nor any other corporation should be collecting information on citizens of the United States. (note the use of the word "citizen", rather than "consumer")

Re:If this is an issue... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37725036)

Privacy has been encroached on for a couple of decades now.

Not really. It's an ongoing push-and-pull that isn't objectively better or worse than it's always been.

Yes, it's time for congress to address the issue of privacy for private citizens.

They have been for as long as we've had a congress.

A good visual timeline of selected privacy issues in the US, 1600-2008:
http://issuu.com/sciam/docs/extended-privacy-timeline/3?mode=embed&documentId=080905202111-362202d8bd0b48319813a4aac215b34c&layout=grey [issuu.com]

I think you'll be surprised.

Re:If this is an issue... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37725492)

No, no, no, you're doing it wrong. Everything now is worse than it used to be and it's all [insert villain of choice the following list: The Government, MPAA, RIAA, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Apple, patent law, copyright law, Wall St]'s fault.

Re:If this is an issue... (0)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725082)

They do, however the GOP has decided that it's not going to participate in fixing that particular problem, and is not interested in allowing the Democrats to even try, so this is at least something.

Re:If this is an issue... (1)

mark_elf (2009518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725732)

I think corporate oversight is an urgent issue that they should do something about. Lawmakers don't seem lazy to me, only frozen by obstructionism, generated in large part by corporate interests that love a weak, divisive and gridlocked congress. Then they can do whatever they want to destroy our freedoms, without government interference. Do you realize they even pay people to sit around and post anti government talking points on message boards? It's gotten so out of hand. At least people are finally waking up to whats really going on. America's not working because trillions of dollars have been horked out of our monetary system by Wall St sharpies, banks and corporations. They swindled us. They're parasites. They're going to suck the blood of middle class americans as long as they can get away with it. An affluent middle class is just money that's not in their pocket.

Re:If this is an issue... (2)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724862)

While we're at it, where is the outrage over everything you type in the Firefox address bar being sent to Google by default?

Re:If this is an issue... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37725110)

The Amazon silk service is a physical device, tied to a service, so the politicians feel they understand it enough to fight it. As opposed to:
a) regular web sites, which are "on the internet and unregulatable"
b) devices like an android phone, which are not tied to a particular service(except a carrier)

That b) is not much more dangerous than the amazon silk is quite laughable, and the underpinnings of a) have legal loopholes you can roll fort knox into

But politicians will believe what they will

Re:If this is an issue... (1)

jjp9999 (2180664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725394)

True. The first thing I thought of when I read this was Verizon's recent announcement they'll be watching all user Web activity; learn what they like, whether they own pets, whether they like sports; and even track their locations.

It's a me, Mario! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37724518)

Big Browser

Okay, where is Mario when you need him? Oh wait, you meant BROWSER? -facepalm-

I wish (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724520)

The whole personal information collection bubble would just pop already, how much useless data can they collect to try and target ad's you block or ignore anyway?

Re:I wish (2)

planimal (2454610) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724552)

i don't think it has even begun. in 10 years we'll see personalized ads within the walls of commercial facilities.

Re:I wish (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724570)

In 20 years (at the latest) vending machines will be able to use magnetic fields to induce advertisements directly into your brain.

Re:I wish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37724606)

You call it an advertisement, I call it an unexplainable irresistible urge to consume.

Alcoa: strong buy.

Re:I wish (1)

Dragon Bait (997809) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725130)

You call it an advertisement, I call it an unexplainable irresistible urge to consume.

I think enough people already have that.

Re:I wish (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724722)

I have no link, it may have been SlashDot. I read an article with video about a year ago that involved directional audio that did just that. You could be standing in a crowd and be the only one that heard something, sounding like it was in your head.

They were testing it out in public, and it WAS freaking people out.

The context was advertising.

Re:I wish (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725242)

A story [cnet.com](CNET; but enough company names to fire up google).

The technology is actually damn clever, ultrasonic emitter with carefully tuned wave interaction creating audible sounds only at a specific point, total sci-fi stuff; but using it to beam ghostly whispers into pedestrian's heads was pretty tactless of them.

Re:I wish (1)

adrn01 (103810) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725140)

i don't think it has even begun. in 10 years we'll see personalized ads within the walls of commercial facilities.

In 11 years men's room stalls will have vending machines that offer to sell you condoms that fit you EXACTLY.

hilarious (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37724530)

Someone should explain facebook and "like" buttons to this guy.

"Wait, you mean every porn video or news story or picture of a puppy that I look at is logged and connected to my real name?"

Opera does the same thing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37724532)

Opera's Turbo mode does the same thing, Opera's servers handle the request and compress and re-send the images, and probably some other tricks too, I never heard anyone get worried about that. What about all the supposed anonymizing web proxies that will gladly hand records over to the government? Silk doesn't seem quite as bad by comparison, or so new. The difference here I guess is Amazon has a financial incentive to record and index some of that data for advertising and metrics.

Re:Opera does the same thing (2)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724880)

The difference is Amazon is a known retailer who uses lots of advertising, and is well known for collecting information for advertisers.

Opera hasn't been caught doing that yet. (it is a revenue stream they are missing)

Re:Opera does the same thing (2)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725794)

Google uses lots of advertising too. Remember Microsoft's video [youtube.com] showing how Chrome leaks every keystroke in the URL address bar?

Re:Opera does the same thing (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725640)

But Opera is based in Norway, a country that has strong ties to the EU and therefore no doubt has strict consumer protection and privacy laws.

turn it off (4, Informative)

XaXXon (202882) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724538)

seriously.. just turn it off

In an email, an Amazon spokesperson said "users can completely turn off the split-browsing mode and use Amazon Silk like a conventional Web browser."

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2394732,00.asp#fbid=GbO7By1YITI [pcmag.com]

Re:turn it off (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724562)

I fucking hate opt out, I should not have to nag every damned website I visit to not spam me cause they think they are somehow providing me a service.

Re:turn it off (4, Insightful)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724604)

Plus all the plugins you need to have installed to make sure they won't just track you anyway. I wouldn't mind so much if it was a permanent, once and for all opt-out, but it seems like more and more businesses just update something every few months and turn the shit right back on again, since the default for everything anymore is "PRIVACY IS ANTI-AMERICAN, WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO HIDE?"

Re:turn it off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37725824)

It's an advertised feature of the device which makes your browsing faster. The opt-out is entirely for paranoid people.

Re:turn it off (0, Flamebait)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724566)

Do you expect rationality from Joe "You Lie!" Barton. He is a goon, and this attack against Amazon likely has a political back story.

Re:turn it off (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724826)

Given that he voted "yea" on H.R. 5304, the delightful FISA retroactive-immunity-for-any-illegal-spying-the-telcos-certainly-didn't-engage-in-but-if-they-did-it-is-now-legal act, I have a few proctological suggestions about where he can shove is alleged concern for internet privacy...

Let's be clear here, this 'silk' is, indeed, an almost cartoonishly invasive technology, enabled b default, on what is likely to be a very popular consumer device(yes, Opera mini/opera turbo, and various dialup "accelerator" proxy services have been doing similar things, so it isn't really new; but 'Silk' is the boldest and highest profile); but Mr. Barton can be judged only to be crying crocodile tears, given his record. [votesmart.org]

Pro surveillance, anti state records transparency, pro "PATRIOT" act, etc, etc.

Re:turn it off (1)

Jay L (74152) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725334)

This is good news. I was worried about Silk's privacy implications, but if Joe Barton is worried too, Silk must be freaking unicorns.

Re:turn it off (1, Informative)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724852)

Do you expect rationality from Joe "You Lie!" Barton.

Except that it was a lie.

Maybe you should try a different example next time.

Re:turn it off (1)

dlb (17444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725562)

You are thinking of Joe "You Lie!" Wilson.

Joe Barton was the one who apologized to Tony Hayward of BP for having to, god forbid, create an escrow fund to compensate Gulf oil spill victims.

Either way, they're both fools.

Re:turn it off (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724798)

seriously.. just turn it off

Look... it's a well established fact that people are lazy.
When companies make something opt-out, they do it because they know that most users will not.
And vice versa, when good things are an opt-in, we know that most people won't opt-in to it.

Good public policy is to make 'bad' ideas an opt-in, because we know most people won't opt-in to it.

Re:turn it off (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724822)

Or buy another kindle. Or any other e-reader. I fail to see that this is an issue, when they tell consumers they can use Amazon's pre-caching, or not use it. I think I agree with another comment about the sales tax fight. Someone's making a stink about nothing for some leverage later.

Re:turn it off (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724864)

Why not approach it like the EU, and require Amazon to provide users with a simple choice screen when they first use the new Kindle? "Welcome to Amazon Silk! Would you like to speed your browsing by sending all of your requests through our servers, or would you prefer to use Silk in a conventional manner?". Opt-Out tends to leave non technical users in the dust. That said, Amazon is starting to lack credibility when it comes to privacy issues. Their actions regarding 1984 + Kindle left a dark stain on their reputation. "Opt-Out" privacy isn't going to help.

Re:turn it off (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725250)

Why should consumers have to guess or even look for setting to not be spied upon?? Advertise the fact that they can do this if we allow them to spy. Its called advertising, making a product people want.

Re:turn it off (1)

KahabutDieDrake (1515139) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725922)

Anyone else think it's weird that Amazon chose the name silk for this? Does anyone remember the old black hat term "silk rope"?

Keeping their monopoly (1, Troll)

ff1324 (783953) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724568)

Its not that Congress is truly outraged about Amazon invading privacy. They're outraged they have competition in privacy invasion.

Re:Keeping their monopoly (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724842)

Its not that Congress is truly outraged about Amazon invading privacy. They're outraged they have competition in privacy invasion.

More likely, they're upset that Amazon's response to Congress's demand for a copy of the information was to send them the price list for various classes of information. Congress wants to get that information for free (like they do now from google); they don't want to be treated like an ordinary corporate customer who pays for information about you.

Big Browser (1)

cpghost (719344) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724574)

Amazon's "Big Browser" shows that even non-slashdotters can come up with a catchy new meme every now and then.

Going after Amazon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37724584)

Amazon is just one of the many companies that is doing this, and they are rather late to a game that has been played by Sony, Facebook, Apple, and possibly Microsoft for half a decade. It looks like this congressman didn't receive his regular "donation" in time and finds this is the best way to go after amazon.

Uh huh (4, Insightful)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724598)

'My staff yesterday told me that one of our leading Internet companies, Amazon, is going to create their own server and their own system and they're going to force everybody that uses Amazon to go through their server and they're going to collect all this information on each person who does that without that person's knowledge. Enough is enough.'

Translation for those who don't speak Congress-critter or those who live in other countries:
"One of Amazon's competitors has decided to donate to my re-election campaign. A study group our pollster ran shows that we might get some TV time bitching about 'privacy concerns' hahahaha."

What's all this I hear about web trousers? (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724616)

I mean, who'd want to wear them anyway? Wouldn't they be cold?

What's that? Oh, never mind.

Other browsers.. (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724624)

Err, Chrome collects data. Opera Mini and Skyfire run you through their servers. etc etc How come none of those companies are out in front of Congress getting reamed?

Re:Other browsers.. (1)

smi.james.th (1706780) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724792)

Just what I was thinking... It's not as though this hasn't been done before, though, isn't this the exact sort of approach that RIM introduced with their first BlackBerries?

The other issue that I have is, ok, so Amazon is collecting data on you, so who really cares? It's not as though someone is sitting there reading it, all it's used for is so that scripts can target adverts at you. Big whooping deal. I don't see how this is a threat to my privacy or anything. If anything, I prefer having better adverts targeted at me, so that I don't get bothered by ones I'm not even remotely interested in.

Re:Other browsers.. (1)

cpghost (719344) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725116)

don't see how this is a threat to my privacy or anything

Never underestimate the danger of corporate data mining.

Want an example how this can be abused? Alright. Suppose someone with a minor disease visits websites or forums talking about that. Fast forward a few years. Said person seeks health insurance, but can't get any, because the insurance companies will have access to that person's surfing habit, and will flag this person as undesirable customer. So no coverage, right?

This is just one of many, many examples what can all go wrong and it's barely scratching the surface.

Re:Other browsers.. (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725244)

Want an example how this can be abused? Alright. Suppose someone with a minor disease visits websites or forums talking about that. Fast forward a few years. Said person seeks health insurance, but can't get any, because the insurance companies will have access to that person's surfing habit, and will flag this person as undesirable customer. So no coverage, right?

Well, I'm a doctor, I look up major and minor diseases all the time. I'm going to be in BIG trouble, right?

I don't think it will be that obvious, nor that intrusive. I'm not in favor of everyone on the planet logging every keystroke I send into the Internet but I believe the ramifications are going to be more annoying than dangerous. The government can barely keep up with the information I send them (I'm looking at YOU, IRS). The credit databases like Experian are so full of incorrect data that it's laughable.

If people were really trawling search histories with an eye towards looking for bad guys, we'd all be in jail.

Re:Other browsers.. (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725386)

Said person seeks health insurance, but can't get any, because the insurance companies will have access to that person's surfing habit, and will flag this person as undesirable customer. So no coverage, right?

Not right... because starting in 2014 health insurance companies will be forced to offer coverage to everyone. That's the flip side of forcing everyone to have health insurance (the individual mandate).

Re:Other browsers.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37725494)

They never said at what price though. If they find out you have something expensive to treat, they'll just jack up coverage to extortionate prices.

Re:Other browsers.. (1)

smi.james.th (1706780) | more than 2 years ago | (#37726328)

Not necessarily... I look up random diseases all the time, not because I have them but I'm curious. I understand the point that you're trying to illustrate though.

AFAIK, however, that sort of information wouldn't be available to e.g. health insurance companies, because all that companies like Google and Amazon sell is targeted advertising. Wouldn't put it past Facebook to sell the data out though. I stand under correction, though. Anyone have better insight than me?

Re:Other browsers.. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724984)

I don't know why *none* of these are getting reamed, but Chrome? It collects data and stores it *on your local machine.* It doesn't route every request through Google.

Chrome is Google spyware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37725754)

Sorry to burst your Google fanboy intelligence .... but Chrome is Google spyware. Google has said so many times.

The difference is only in the Google is very up front about it. The only thing that they are not up-front is what data they collect and what they don't. They don't even claim that the browser does not log information when you visit HTTPS websites (like accessing your bank account).

Re:Chrome is Google spyware (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725994)

Chrome is Google spyware.

Citation needed.

They don't even claim that the browser does not log information when you visit HTTPS websites (like accessing your bank account).

Yeah, and?

I don't have a problem with a browser logging information... on my own machine. If my machine is compromised, no browser will save me. If it's not, then having that information is actually really convenient to me.

And all this is assuming that they are in fact doing this -- you say "They don't even claim that..." implying that they must be doing this. Yeah, and Glenn Beck has never denied raping and murdering a young girl in 1990.

Now, if you mean to imply that Chrome sends a log to Google every time I visit an HTTPS website, then you're going to have to back that up. It shouldn't be too hard, anyway, if you want to prove your point -- set up a VM, use Wireshark to monitor all traffic into and out of it, ensure everything's up-to-date, and go browse around the Internet. Let me know how many times it phones home, and what it sends.

Um -- PATRIOT act anyone? (3, Insightful)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724644)

If Congress is concerned about privacy, maybe they should stop warrantless wiretapping and war by executive fiat. Just a thought.

equines vs. pachyderms (1, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724708)

I'm showing my partisan bias here, but I think it's telling the Republican gave us the not-quite-calling-it-tubes comment that "they're going to force everybody that uses Amazon to go through their server", and the Democrat gave us the literary word-play of "Big Browser".

Joe Barton and his staff are idiots... (2)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724726)

My staff yesterday told me that one of our leading Internet companies, ...

First. Why is his penis talking to him?

... Amazon, is going to create their own server and their own system...

Um, like amazon.com?

...and they're going to force everybody that uses Amazon to go through their server...

Um, like amazon.com?

...and they're going to collect all this information on each person who does that...

Um, like amazon.com?

...without that person's knowledge.

Um, I'm sure there will be a lengthy and detailed privacy notice/disclaimer telling us all the things they're going to track and collect, like amazon.com.

Re:Joe Barton and his staff are idiots... (1)

Chewbacon (797801) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725462)

People read that? I only read the Apple store agreement after that South Park episode. And, no, I don't have my mouth sewn to someone's ass yet... and I'm not gonna!

mo3 0p (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37724742)

Pe8sonal rivalriEs

Man - is it getting worth getting exited? (1)

no-body (127863) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724782)

Aren't Opera and Bolt mobile browsers routing their web traffic through their respective proxy servers anyway and potentially logging everything one browses to?

Re:Man - is it getting worth getting exited? (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725382)

Isnt opera made in europe? i havent a clue who bolt is or what it is lol.

I hate this slippery slop arguments (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724794)

'Consumers may buy the new Kindle Fire to read 1984, but they may not realize that the tablet's "Big Browser" may be watching their every keystroke when they are online,' Markey said in a statement."

Having data isn't enough to qualify as "big brother". Recording massive amounts of data on minute details of your life isn't what made the book big brother scary. It's what they did with that knowledge.

Fact is we're moving into an age where we will be recording more and more data on everyone. It's more important to setup a legal framework for what that data can be used for from an ethical/moral standpoint rather then attempt to stop massive data from being collected in the first place as it can be used for good as well as evil.

Re:I hate this slippery slop arguments (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724894)

The trick with laws unless it is explicitly outlawed it is legal, and therefore fair game.

Do not ask what the law was meant to achieve but how can it be abused by anyone else.

Since there is no law against doing stuff with that knowledge it will be used against people.

nothing compared to the ISPs (5, Insightful)

optimism (2183618) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724802)

Yes...Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple, etc can log your keystrokes and behaviors through their servers and their widespread affiliates.

But this is nothing compared to your ISP. Comcast, AT&T, Roadrunner, etc have access to EVERYTHING their customers do on their Internet connections (minus a fractional percentage of encrypted traffic, of course).

Funny that most folks seem to ignore this elephant in the room.

Re:nothing compared to the ISPs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37724874)

The NSA has connections into the ISP's already, and the telecoms have retroactive immunity in breaking the law to allow this. Maybe congress is worried about lots of people using a giant proxy and having to get a warrant every time.

Re:nothing compared to the ISPs (1)

Chewbacon (797801) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725474)

Yeah, it's kind of creepy when I've made a typo in my address bar and get a search page generated by Cox that's filled with ads clearly generated by my browsing.

Re:nothing compared to the ISPs (1)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725560)

Only if your ISP sucks. Mine lets me do whatever the hell I want with my space, and ignores threatening letters from lawyers. They even provide a proper reverse DNS. I have a network service provider, not an ISP. They simply pass all management concerns along to me.

Security Theater. (2)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724828)

If they get all bipartisan and outraged about this, it's because they're both covering for the domestic spying that a real Big Brother system has been engaging in since the Patriot Act. Funny how they can compare Amazon to "Big Brother" from 1984, but our own NSA now spies on us, without any warrant whatsoever.

Rake Amazon over the coals for gathering information that relates to advertising, but give AT&T a free pass for hosting NSA spy rooms in their facilities.

Re:Security Theater. (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725216)

But the NSA does it for our own good.. while amazon does it for their own good ( at least until they pay off congress to get on their good side. )

Re:Security Theater. (1)

Chewbacon (797801) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725490)

Perhaps the Federal Government needs a privacy agreement people will find difficult to refuse. Like when you sign your W-2 or 1040, you agree to surrender your privacy rights.

Re:Security Theater. (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#37726460)

How many children were killed by US bombs yesterday? And these guys have the temerity to express outrage over a web browser while that is going on?

Congressmen: do your fucking job. It's described in the instruction manual [usconstitution.net].

Stupid, stupid legislators ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37724906)

They display their ignorance over and over. Everybody's data goes through somebody's private server somewhere. Usually more than one. There is no privacy. Get over it. If you want to be private, move out to Montana and get off the Internet.

Congress has other priorities... (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724936)

Congress should be worrying about it's criminal ignorance of the constitution and not micromanaging the entire economy...

Force? (1)

ResQuad (243184) | more than 2 years ago | (#37724942)

"going to force everybody that uses Amazon to go through their server " ??? Once again, congress has no idea how computers work.

#1 - Amazon isn't going to "force" everyone that uses Amazon. Silk is only available on a single device, the Kindle Fire (For now).

#2 - According to Wikipedia [1] and several dozen news stories, you can turn off Silk.

Granted, It is still a privacy concern, but lets at least get the facts remotely close first.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Silk [wikipedia.org]

Re:Force? (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725436)

Do people know silk is on one machine? Do they even know what silk IS? and why should we have to even worry about it. When i buy a device i don't expect it to collect the data i make unless i am asked first. Whats with this BS opt-out? If your product is good enough and we get something in return like Discounts then maybe people wouldn't mind. I don't understand why businesses think its their god given right to spy on what we do so they can make more money from us.

Re:Force? (1)

mcavic (2007672) | more than 2 years ago | (#37726140)

It's a performance feature. If you don't trust Amazon not to spy on you, then don't buy a Kindle.

how does this differ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37724968)

From BlackBerry, which has always operated in this fashion?

Nothing new here.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37725066)

This is exactly how RIM handles data traffic on the BlackBerry...all your browsing, emails, PIM Sync, etc, goes through there server and no one seems upset by that.
Also, the Opera Mobile browser does this to accelerate browsing and no one cares.

This is not new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37725106)

Opera mobile has been doing this for nearly 10 years, cept with them you couldn't turn it off.

RIM (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725188)

Does this too for the most part when you are attached to a BES server, and it's already 'government approved'.

We really should ban non technical people from making laws that effect the technical world.

The Real Issue Here (2)

Nebulious (1241096) | more than 2 years ago | (#37725604)

Let's not forget that Joe Barton is perhaps the dumbest and most openly corrupt person in congress today. Yes, that is saying a lot too. This is the man who thought he stumped Energy Secretary Stephen Chu with the question "Where does oil come from?" This is the guy who apologized to BP for Obama making them pay New Horizon reparations in the Gulf Coast. Joe Barton represents everything wrong with modern American politics and he does it with a holier-than-thou attitude.

What I'm saying is if Joe Barton went on TV and said the sky was blue, I'd go out and see if it had changed to green.

Research in motion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37725774)

where is the outrage at RIM? Doesn't RIM do the same thing through BIS activated blackberries and whomever is running a BES server?

Research in Motion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37725874)

This is what RIM has been done with their BlackBerrys all along. Any web (and eMail) traffic is router through their servers. Even the web traffic of company's that own enterprise BB-Servers handled like this to avoid exposure of the companys internal network to the www.

20 Years Too Late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37726228)

Nothing new here. Why the outrage? Prodigy, Compuserve, AOL, ...

Congress is out of touch? Yep. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37726272)

What Amazon's doing here is not new or novel (although I bet they try to patent it....but I digress). RIM and Palm were doing that for years for their devices.

That being said, Amazon's always looking for ways to monetize. While RIM and Palm were proxying traffic for technical reasons, Amazon's likely doing it to make up for lack of bandwidth in the device, to capture the customer information like everyone fears, or both.

Then pass privacy laws (1)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 2 years ago | (#37726492)

It's about time Congress passed some privacy laws that detail what companies can and cannot do with people's data. Instead of privacy policies that companies don't honor, why not set some basics. It would avoid the Amazon issue, the recent OnStar fiasco, put some limits on Google and other Ad companies, etc. Most of the reactions on this article are about how stupid this is. Instead, consider that we usually complain about privacy and Congress has finally noticed albeit a very weak example.

Some of the technical details are wrong with his statement, but consider that we're dealing with someone who isn't technically savvy I'd say it's a pretty good start.

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