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Privacy Groups End Tie With Amazon

September 14, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Two privacy groups that have criticized Amazon.com’s practices in the past have decided to end partnership with the online bookseller to protest Amazon’s changed privacy standards.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington-based advocacy group, sold its and other books as part of Amazon’s affiliates program. In the program, affiliates are paid a fee by Amazon for each book sold through the affiliate’s Web site.

EPIC was one of the first Amazon affiliates, beginning in 1996, and with its decision will start selling its own books _ mainly dealing with privacy law, cryptography and related topics _ through other means.

``We are witnessing the slow erosion of online privacy under the industry’s self-regulatory approach,″ said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the group.

Privacy advocate Jason Catlett of Junkbusters also pulled out of the program, saying in an open letter to Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos that the company’s new privacy policy is ``unacceptably weak.″

EPIC and other privacy groups criticized Amazon this month when the bookseller told customers that it considered customer information to be a company asset that can be sold if Amazon goes out of business. It also stopped letting customers opt out of having their personal information shared with marketing companies and retailers partnered with Amazon.

Amazon spokeswoman Patty Smith said Wednesday the new policy is actually stricter than the previous one because it spells out the conditions under which personal information can be transferred.

``EPIC has mischaracterized its new policies and its former policies,″ Smith said.

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