Amazon chasing employees for acting as rogue 'data brokers'

Employees are selling services and internal information for between $80 and $2,000 to businesses seeking advantage

amazon building

Amazon is investigating several incidents in which employees in the US and China allegedly stole internal data to sell on to third parties.

People who are familiar with the investigation told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that internal sales data, reviewers' emails addresses and offering to delete negative reviews are among those offered by 'brokers' for between $80 and $2,000.

Sellers would be enticed by such offers to gain an advantage over rivals, and game the automated ranking system. Contact information for reviews, for example, would allow sellers to approach users to ask them to change negative reviews.

Advertisement - Article continues below

"We have strict policies and a Code of Business Conduct & Ethics in place for our employees," an Amazon spokesperson told IT Pro.

"We implement sophisticated systems to restrict and audit access to information. We hold our employees to a high ethical standard and anyone in violation of our Code faces discipline, including termination and potential legal and criminal penalties.

"In addition, we have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behavior, we will take swift action against them, including terminating their selling accounts, deleting reviews, withholding funds, and taking legal action.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

"We are conducting a thorough investigation of these claims."

Eric Broussard, Amazon's vice president for international marketplaces opened an internal probe in May, the WSJ report continued, after being tipped off about such activity in China.

The company has also shaken up the top roles in China in an effort to clamp down on any illicit activity that may have been overseen from a senior level.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Product rankings on Amazon are determined by a combination of factors - with reviews being one of the most crucial. WSJ says the rate for deleting one review amounts to $300 in China - with brokers usually demanding a five-review minimum. Sales data, meanwhile, would cost closer to $80.

Amazon recently reached the $1 billion dollar valuation milestone, becoming the second company to achieve this following Apple in August. But the firm has sustained criticism, in the US especially, for paying its employees relatively low wages, and for "prison-like" working conditions in its warehouses.

Featured Resources

Top 5 challenges of migrating applications to the cloud

Explore how VMware Cloud on AWS helps to address common cloud migration challenges

Download now

3 reasons why now is the time to rethink your network

Changing requirements call for new solutions

Download now

All-flash buyer’s guide

Tips for evaluating Solid-State Arrays

Download now

Enabling enterprise machine and deep learning with intelligent storage

The power of AI can only be realised through efficient and performant delivery of data

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/security/cyber-security/355185/165-million-britons-experienced-a-cyber-crime-in-the-past-year
cyber security

Report: 16.5 million Britons fell victim to cyber crime in the past year

1 Apr 2020
Visit/cloud/amazon-web-services-aws/355183/aws-launches-amazon-detective
Amazon Web Services (AWS)

AWS launches Amazon Detective for investigating security incidents

1 Apr 2020
Visit/security/privacy/355182/government-to-launch-coronavirus-contact-tracking-app
privacy

UK government to launch coronavirus 'contact tracking' app

1 Apr 2020
Visit/software/video-conferencing/355180/zoom-does-not-use-end-to-end-encrypted
video conferencing

Zoom admits meetings don't use end-to-end encryption

1 Apr 2020

Most Popular

Visit/security/privacy/355155/zoom-kills-facebook-integration-after-data-transfer-backlash
privacy

Zoom kills Facebook integration after data transfer backlash

30 Mar 2020
Visit/security/data-breaches/355173/marriott-hit-by-data-breach-exposing-personal-data-of-52-million
data breaches

Marriott data breach exposes personal data of 5.2 million guests

31 Mar 2020
Visit/security/cyber-crime/355171/fbi-warns-of-zoom-bombing-hackers-amidst-coronavirus-usage-spike
cyber crime

FBI warns of ‘Zoom-bombing’ hackers amid coronavirus usage spike

31 Mar 2020
Visit/data-insights/data-management/355170/oracle-cloud-courses-are-free-during-coronavirus-lockdown
data management

Oracle cloud courses are free during coronavirus lockdown

31 Mar 2020