AMZN - Amazon.com, Inc.

NasdaqGS - NasdaqGS Real-time price. Currency in USD
1,864.72
-13.22 (-0.70%)
At close: 4:00PM EST
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Previous close1,877.94
Open1,885.89
Bid1,865.68 x 1000
Ask1,867.05 x 900
Day's range1,857.25 - 1,886.64
52-week range1,566.76 - 2,035.80
Volume3,997,340
Avg. volume3,114,456
Market cap924.523B
Beta (5Y monthly)1.51
PE ratio (TTM)82.63
EPS (TTM)N/A
Earnings dateN/A
Forward dividend & yieldN/A (N/A)
Ex-dividend dateN/A
1y target estN/A
  • Macron, Trump May Have Tariff Truce in 2020 Digital Tax Fight
    Bloomberg

    Macron, Trump May Have Tariff Truce in 2020 Digital Tax Fight

    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Presidents Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump agreed to a truce in their dispute over digital taxes that will mean neither France nor the U.S. will impose punitive tariffs this year, a French diplomat said.“Great discussion with @realDonaldTrump on digital tax,” Macron said Monday in a tweet. “We will work together on a good agreement to avoid tariff escalation.”Trump, on Twitter, responded “excellent!” to Macron’s post, without providing any more details. Trump is en route to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum.A White House readout of the call was notably more muted, saying only that the “two leaders agreed it is important to complete successful negotiations on the digital services tax” and “discussed other bilateral issues.” And neither a White House spokesman nor officials with the U.S. Trade Representative’s office would confirm that the U.S. president had called off his announced tariffs.Still, the possible respite may defuse transatlantic tensions that had been building between Washington and Brussels along another potential trade war front. Last week, Trump signed a cease-fire with China in phase one of a broader deal aimed at balancing trade between the world’s two largest economies.The European Union is an even bigger U.S. trading partner than China and supply chains between the two economies, particularly in automotive and financial services industries, are intertwined in ways that would make a tit-for-tat tariff dispute even more harmful to the world economy.France and the U.S. will continue negotiations along with their European partners until the end of 2020 to agree a global framework that ensures tech companies pay an appropriate amount of tax, the French diplomat said.Macron’s government still hopes to find a solution that fits within discussions at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s work on the issue, the official added, asking not to be identified in line with French government rules.European finance ministers meeting in Brussels Tuesday will discuss progress of the OECD talks. While the OECD is still working on its proposal for taxing tech companies around the world, France pushed ahead with its own levy last year that hit U.S. internet giants like Google, Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.The U.S. objected, alleging on Dec. 2 that the French tax discriminates against American technology companies, citing Section 301 of a 1974 American law that Trump has thus far reserved to justify tariffs against China. That opened the door to the U.S.’s threat to hit $2.4 billion of French goods with tariffs in retaliation.Among the French products targeted with duties of as much as 100% were luxury items like wine, cheese and makeup. One American wine merchant called it the biggest threat to the industry since Prohibition a century ago.For its part, the French government had warned that the EU would retaliate if the U.S. imposed additional tariffs.The dispute was another headache for European trade officials scrambling to expand their policy arsenal as the U.S. takes aim at a rules-based system for global trade that Trump argues is outdated and tilted against America. It also coincided with a change in leadership at the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm.EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan visited Washington last week for the first time in the job, partly to plead for talks rather than tariffs in disagreements like the French digital tax. At stake, he said, was transatlantic trade in goods and services valued at more than $3 billion a day.“Sounds like a fairly healthy relationship to me,” Hogan said Thursday in the U.S. capital. “So why put tariffs on these EU products to make them more expensive for your people?”The truce follows weeks of discussions between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who were scheduled to meet Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland, the alpine resort town where government officials and business leaders gather during the winter to discuss whatever is ailing the global economy.U.S. and EU trade relations started to sour in 2018 when the Trump administration invoked national-security considerations to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from Europe. As a U.S. military ally, the EU was infuriated and promptly retaliated with levies on iconic American brands such as Harley-Davidson Inc. motorcycles and Levi Strauss & Co. jeans.A subsequent U.S. threat to wreak significantly more economic damage by targeting the European auto industry with duties on the same security grounds led to a hastily agreed truce and a pledge by both sides to work toward reducing industrial tariffs across the board.Since then, the Trump administration has refused to start the tariff-cutting negotiations unless Europe includes agriculture in them. Also, it imposed levies on EU products in retaliation over government aid to Airbus SE that was deemed illegal by the World Trade Organization, and disabled the WTO’s appellate body,The EU, meanwhile, is pressing ahead with a plan for tariffs against the U.S. in a parallel WTO case over unlawful subsidies to Boeing Co.Trump, scheduled to speak Tuesday in Davos at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting, on Sunday reiterated his frustration with Europe as a trading partner.“Europe has had tremendous barriers to us doing business with them. All those barriers are coming down. They have to come down,” he told a conference of farmers in Austin, Texas. “If they don’t come down, we’re going to have to do things that are very bad for them.”He added, “Europe was, in many ways, more difficult -- and is more difficult -- than China.”(Adds Trump comment on Twitter in third paragraph)\--With assistance from Jonathan Stearns, Justin Sink and Chelsea Mes.To contact the reporters on this story: Ania Nussbaum in Paris at anianussbaum@bloomberg.net;William Horobin in Paris at whorobin@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Brendan Murray, Wendy BenjaminsonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Netflix Expands International Footprint with Paris Office
    Zacks

    Netflix Expands International Footprint with Paris Office

    Netflix (NFLX) opens new Paris office and announces development of original French-language productions to expand presence in the country.

  • Netflix Q4 Earnings Preview: Time for Investors to Worry About NFLX Stock?
    Zacks

    Netflix Q4 Earnings Preview: Time for Investors to Worry About NFLX Stock?

    Netflix is set to report its Q4 fiscal 2019 earnings results after the closing bell on Tuesday, January 21. The streaming TV giant's stock price has climbed over the last several months but Wall Street is worried about Netflix's growing competition...

  • The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Amazon, Zumiez, Signet, Macy's and J. C. Penney
    Zacks

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Amazon, Zumiez, Signet, Macy's and J. C. Penney

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Amazon, Zumiez, Signet, Macy???s and J. C. Penney

  • Bloomberg

    Amazon Executive Challenges Facebook’s Clegg on User Privacy

    (Bloomberg) -- A senior Amazon.com Inc. executive used a conference in Munich to challenge Facebook Inc.’s record in protecting users’ privacy.“If you don’t pay for the product, you are the product,” Werner Vogels, Amazon’s chief technology officer told Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president for global affairs and communications, at the Digital Life Design conference on Monday.Standing in the audience, Vogels -- who introduced himself as working for a “small bookshop” -- asked Clegg how Facebook could claim to protect users if many weren’t aware of how their data is being used.“I think there are things Facebook could do,” to make its relationship with users more explicit, Clegg responded. “Unlike you, I believe an advertising business model where the user doesn’t have to pay is a very ingenious and good thing.”Both companies have come under scrutiny for violating users’ privacy. Speakers using Amazon’s Alexa virtual-assistant collected audio snippets from users and played them to employees hired to help train its voice-recognition software, Bloomberg has reported. Amazon has said that it takes privacy seriously and that select employees listen to only a very small fraction of Alexa requests to improve the service.Read more: Silicon Valley Is Listening to Your Most Intimate MomentsFacebook has come under fire for giving third-parties access to user data, particularly in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Last year, it agreed to pay a record $5 billion fine to the Federal Trade Commission to settle an investigation stemming from that controversy, where an outside researcher collected personal data on tens of millions of Facebook users without their consent, and then sold that data to a consultancy working with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.To contact the reporters on this story: Sarah Syed in London at ssyed35@bloomberg.net;Oliver Sachgau in Munich at osachgau@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at gturner35@bloomberg.net, Amy Thomson, Thomas PfeifferFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Zacks Investment Ideas feature highlights: Tesla, Boeing, Virgin Galactic, Northrop Grumman and Amazon
    Zacks

    Zacks Investment Ideas feature highlights: Tesla, Boeing, Virgin Galactic, Northrop Grumman and Amazon

    Zacks Investment Ideas feature highlights: Tesla, Boeing, Virgin Galactic, Northrop Grumman and Amazon

  • Sprouts Farmers Lags Industry Mark: Will Strategies Aid?
    Zacks

    Sprouts Farmers Lags Industry Mark: Will Strategies Aid?

    Sprouts Farmers (SFM) is witnessing higher expenses that are affecting the bottom line. However, initiatives like Fresh Item Management Technology and cost containment might aid performance.

  • Amazon Twitch's Viewership Falls: GOOGL, MSFT & FB Gear Up
    Zacks

    Amazon Twitch's Viewership Falls: GOOGL, MSFT & FB Gear Up

    Amazon (AMZN) Twitch witnesses decline in viewer base in fourth-quarter 2019 on account of losing popular streamers to Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook.

  • Amazon (AMZN) to Open Warehouse in Atlanta, Add 500+ Jobs
    Zacks

    Amazon (AMZN) to Open Warehouse in Atlanta, Add 500+ Jobs

    Amazon (AMZN) plans to open a new facility in Atlanta in a bid to ensure faster delivery to customers.

  • Macron Has a Plan to Lure Tech Talent to France
    Bloomberg

    Macron Has a Plan to Lure Tech Talent to France

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.Emmanuel Macron’s pre-Davos summit for tech executives will hold some goodies for startups.In the third edition of his “Choose France” summit on Monday, timed to catch global CEOs in Paris on their way to the Swiss Alps’ World Economic Forum, the French president will detail measures in his 2020 budget that have improved stock options for startups in France.Macron will also plug a revamped visa regime that will give fast-track papers to tech workers for French or foreign companies and a new benchmark index, the French Tech 120, to promote the nation’s most promising ventures.Snap’s Evan Spiegel, who was given French nationality in 2018, EU digital Commissioner Thierry Breton, Netflix Inc.‘s Reed Hastings, Google’s You Tube CEO Susan Wojcicki, Lime’s Joe Kraus and other leaders from Mexico, Nigeria, Sweden, Turkey and the U.K. will attend the forum in Versailles.Entrepreneurs and executives at some of Europe’s most successful technology startups have been urging local governments to change laws to make employee stock options more attractive, in order to better compete with Silicon Valley. Macron, his Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, Digital Minister Cedric O and 17 ministers will present the government’s latest measures.In November 2018, about 30 chief executives of companies including iZettle AB, Funding Circle Ltd., Supercell Oy, TransferWise Ltd., Blablacar and U.S.-based Stripe Inc., signed an open letter saying a patchwork of different rules in various European countries makes it complicated and costly for employers to dole out stock options.The French 2020 budget law, voted late last year and enacted on Jan. 1, has two major measures already to make stock options of startups more attractive. First the conditions of the so-called BSPCE, an employee shareholding tool equivalent to a stock options, have been sweetened: they will get a discount compared to the price investors paid at the last fund raising.Also, employees of foreign startups with a base in France will be able to get stock options calculated on the parent company’s performance, not just the French branch, minister Cedric O unveiled in a statement late last year, as he said France seeks to attract more tech workers and companies.“What France has done is fantastic, but we really need a pan-European solution,” Martin Mignot, Partner at Index Ventures, which has stakes in BlablaCar, told Bloomberg. “Currently, startups face the same problems every time they expand into a new country. Talk to any entrepreneur and they tell you it’s madness, it is slowing them down and it is putting them at a disadvantage to large companies.”Macron has attempted to lure more investors to France ever since his years as an economy minister in 2014, via taxes, visas, benchmark indexes, bilingual schools and the French way to welcome new comers.In September he created the “Next 40,” a listing of France’s top 40 startups with the strongest growth potential. While only a few of them are currently “unicorns,” with values topping $1 billion, the government said it expect more of them to scale.Read more: Napoleon, Chateaus on Display as France Seeks Venture CapitalOne of the key measures taken by Macron was a 30% flat tax on capital revenues from securities, savings, capital gains, and other sources. That measure got him into trouble with some of his citizens protesting against inequalities in the Yellow Vests movement that started in December 2018.The statistic institute Insee said the increase in inequality in 2018 was linked to a sharp rise in investment incomes, which benefited from the introduction of a flat tax the same year.Still, Macron has also toughened his stance on issues like taxes and privacy. He brought it up with Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook in his first months as president and repeatedly to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Macron is currently in a tug of war with U.S. President Donald Trump over his tax on digital giants.Amazon.com Inc., like other tech companies, will make their first payment of France’s new tax on digital giants in a few weeks. The government enacted a 3% levy on large tech groups that is retroactively effective from Jan. 1, 2019.(Updated with comment from Index ventures)\--With assistance from Natalia Drozdiak.To contact the reporter on this story: Helene Fouquet in Paris at hfouquet1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at gturner35@bloomberg.net, Vidya RootFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Amazon partners with thousands of mom-and-pop stores in India
    TechCrunch

    Amazon partners with thousands of mom-and-pop stores in India

    Now, Amazon is beginning to embrace them. Amazon said on Saturday it has partnered with thousands of neighborhood stores -- locally known as kirana stores -- across India to use them to store and deliver goods. “It’s good for customers, and it helps the shop owners earn additional income,” tweeted Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos .

  • Google Joins The Trillion-Dollar Club: Who's Next?
    Zacks

    Google Joins The Trillion-Dollar Club: Who's Next?

    Google Joins The Trillion-Dollar Club: Who's Next?

  • Tech Daily: GOOGL, AMZN, AAPL, TSM, FB, MSFT
    Zacks

    Tech Daily: GOOGL, AMZN, AAPL, TSM, FB, MSFT

    Alphabet's trillion dollar valuation, Amazon's India troubles and TSM's upbeat earnings announcement are the top stories in this daily.

  • Which Stocks are in the $1 Trillion Club?
    Zacks

    Which Stocks are in the $1 Trillion Club?

    The $1 Trillion Valuation Club is one of the most exclusive groups on Wall Street, and it just added its newest member.

  • Bloomberg

    Sonos CEO Tells House Antitrust Panel Google Abused Power

    (Bloomberg) -- Sonos Inc. Chief Executive Officer Patrick Spence accused Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Amazon.com Inc. of using their market power to thwart competition a week after filing a lawsuit against the world’s largest search engine.“Today’s dominant companies have so much power across such a broad array of markets and continue to leverage that power to expand into new markets that we need to rethink existing laws and policies,” said Spence Friday at a congressional antitrust hearing in Boulder, Colorado, led by Representative David Cicilline, the Rhode Island Democrat who is investigating competition in the technology sector.Sonos, a 1,500-person company, sued Google Jan. 7 for allegedly infringing five patents covering multi-room audio technology. Spence said Google’s dominance enabled it to violate the speaker company’s intellectual property. He said that Google tries to prevent customers from using its voice assistants alongside another company’s on Sonos speakers. While Amazon doesn’t go that far, he said, it has used its power to “to subsidize the conquest” of the booming smart-speaker market, particularly by under-pricing its offerings.Sonos has worked with the committee since before it decided to file the lawsuit, according to a person familiar with the discussions. It has also responded to questions that the committee sent to customers of the large technology platforms.Google has disputed Sonos’ claims and said it will defend itself. The search giant, which faces antitrust probes by 48 state attorneys general as well as the U.S. Justice Department, says it faces robust competition. Cicilline is using the hearing to air grievances by smaller companies, following a series of Washington meetings that focused on the tech giants.“It is apparent that the dominant platforms are increasingly using their gatekeeper power in abusive and coercive ways,” Cicilline said in his opening statement.The panel also heard from David Barnett, the founder of Boulder-based PopSockets, which makes phone holders and stands. He alleged that Amazon frequently engaged in “bullying,” including deliberately selling counterfeits, threatening to go to unauthorized resellers and dropping prices without consulting. “We have $10 million less to innovate this year” because of PopSockets’s decision to end its relationship with Amazon even though it’s more difficult to sell elsewhere, Barnett said.“It seems like Amazon is so dominant that there is no alternative,” said Representative Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican on the committee.Amazon said in a statement that PopSockets is a “valued retail vendor” and added: “We’ve continued to work with PopSockets to address our shared concerns about counterfeit, and continue to have a relationship with PopSockets through Merch by Amazon, which enables other sellers to create customized PopSockets for sale.”The company said it refuses to work with some resellers to ensure low prices, and rejects the notion that it’s dominant, saying it represents just 4% of U.S. retail.The panel also heard from Kirsten Daru, general counsel of Tile Inc., which makes devices that pair with phones to help people locate lost items such as keys or purses.Apple Inc. is reportedly preparing to unveil a competing service, and Daru’s 100-employee company alleges the phone maker has started putting up roadblocks to Tile’s business, such as burying permissions that allow the phone and Tile devices to communicate and prompting users to disable permissions that have been set.“You’re playing up against a team that owns the field, the ball and can change the rules at any given time,” Daru said in an interview before the hearing, adding that a majority of the company’s customers are on Apple’s operating system.Apple said that its treatment of permissions, which focused on location, were designed to protect user privacy and that it’s working with developers whose customers may want particular apps to be able to track them at all times.Daru said Apple also removed Tile devices from its retail stores, and that it bid on search terms related to the would-be rival to drive up the cost of advertising 50% each week during the fall.Cicilline has said his goal is to develop a final report with recommendations for Congress this year. He told reporters on Tuesday that he wants to wrap up his probe by the end of March and said he’s hopeful the tech giants will cooperate with requests for chief executives to give information without subpoenas, preferably in public hearings.“It’s hard to imagine that we’d conclude the investigation without hearing from some of the large technology CEOs, particularly in companies whether there’s such really centralized decision making,” he said.(Updates with comments from PopSockets CEO from eighth paragraph)\--With assistance from Mark Gurman, Rebecca Kern and David McLaughlin.To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at btenerellabr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at sforden@bloomberg.net, Paula DwyerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Buy Google parent Alphabet Stock at its New $1 Trillion Market Cap?
    Zacks

    Buy Google parent Alphabet Stock at its New $1 Trillion Market Cap?

    Shares of Google parent Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) have jumped 9% in 2020 to help it ascend into the $1 trillion market cap club. Is it time to buy?

  • Amazon Is Left Out of Mega-Cap Tech Surge to Records
    Bloomberg

    Amazon Is Left Out of Mega-Cap Tech Surge to Records

    (Bloomberg) -- Major technology and internet companies have long fueled the U.S. stock market’s climb to record levels, but that trend has come with one notable exception: Amazon.com Inc., which has languished in a fairly narrow trading range for months.Amazon shares haven’t notched an all-time high since September 2018, in contrast to mega-cap peers like Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet and Facebook, which have been hitting records on a near-daily basis. Many of these names experienced pronounced draw-downs over the past year and a half, mostly due to disappointing earnings reports or outlooks. But they regained their momentum last year, as their growth assuaged investor caution. Amazon, however, remains about 8.5% below its own peak.Because of its long-term prospects, Amazon is about as close as a stock can be to a consensus choice among Wall Street firms. Over the near term, though, it is “the most hotly debated among investors” as “debates persist on both AWS and next day shipping efforts,” according to UBS analyst Eric Sheridan, referring to its Amazon Web Services cloud-computing business.Since the start of 2019, Amazon shares are up about 24%, below the 32% rise of the S&P 500, as well as the much larger gains seen in other bellwethers. Microsoft and Facebook are both up more than 60% since the start of last year, while Apple has doubled. The rally resulted in trillion-dollar valuations for Apple, Microsoft and Google-parent Alphabet, a milestone that Amazon briefly eclipsed in 2018.The underperformance reflects concerns over Amazon’s earnings trends, even as it has continued to grow revenue at a double-digit clip. Major investments into initiatives like one-day shipping are seen as headwinds, and shares “may be range bound ‘tactically’” given the impact of this spending, Morgan Stanley wrote on Thursday. The firm added that “near-term profitability is likely to still disappoint” because of these investments, even as it sees the effect as temporary and one-day shipping deepening Amazon’s competitive moat within e-commerce.Another key issue is the waning dominance of Amazon Web Services, which has long been a major driver for earnings and margins, but has faced growing competition from rivals like Alphabet and especially Microsoft. According to Bloomberg Intelligence, which cited IDC data, Amazon Web Services was 12 times larger than Microsoft’s cloud business in 2014. By 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, it was just four times larger.James Bach, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, wrote that Amazon was particularly facing “stiffer competition” with government contracts. “Microsoft’s extensive sales experience, installed base within U.S. agencies and broad range of edge-computing products all make a compelling offering,” he wrote. Microsoft is “uniquely positioned to claim market share as federal agencies upgrade and secure IT systems.”In October, Microsoft beat out Amazon for a $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract, a deal Amazon had been seen as the favorite to win. The company subsequently claimed it lost the contract because of political interference by President Donald Trump, and filed a lawsuit challenging its validity.Amazon earlier this week named a new sales chief for AWS. Deutsche Bank wrote that the “magnitude of personnel changes” at AWS, along with rising competition, underscored the “increased risk of further deceleration” at the business.Separately, Morgan Stanley this week wrote that a quarterly survey of chief investment officers suggested some cause for caution about AWS growth. “Quarterly survey results can be volatile, but AWS saw a notable [quarter-over-quarter] drop in net expected budget share gains” over the next three years, analyst Brian Nowak wrote. “It will be important to continue to monitor these metrics going forward as we think about AWS forward growth.”Amazon is expected to report fourth-quarter results later this month. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, Wall Street is looking for revenue growth of nearly 19% and expecting net income to fall by nearly a third. AWS revenue is seen growing more than 30% on a year-over-year basis, according to a Bloomberg MODL estimate.Wall Street remains almost unanimously positive on the stock. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, 53 firms recommend buying the stock, compared with the four with a hold rating. None advocate selling the shares.To contact the reporter on this story: Ryan Vlastelica in New York at rvlastelica1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Catherine Larkin at clarkin4@bloomberg.net, Steven Fromm, Janet FreundFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Retail Sales Scorecard 2019: ETF & Stock Winners
    Zacks

    Retail Sales Scorecard 2019: ETF & Stock Winners

    These industries outperformed in retail sales scorecard 2019, putting the spotlight on these ETFs and stocks.

  • The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: AMZN, WMT, EBAY and BABA
    Zacks

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: AMZN, WMT, EBAY and BABA

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: AMZN, WMT, EBAY and BABA

  • Virgin Galactic Stock Takes Off Before SpaceX and Blue Origin
    Zacks

    Virgin Galactic Stock Takes Off Before SpaceX and Blue Origin

    Exciting milestones are being achieved in space travel rocket technology, attracting early investors and paying customers.

  • Amazon’s Snooping on Alexa Chats Spurs EU Privacy Response
    Bloomberg

    Amazon’s Snooping on Alexa Chats Spurs EU Privacy Response

    (Bloomberg) -- European Union privacy watchdogs are gearing up to police digital assistants after revelations that Amazon.com Inc. workers listened in on people’s conversations with their Alexa digital assistants.Bloomberg first reported in April that Amazon had a team of thousands of workers around the world listening to Alexa audio requests with the goal of improving the software.Similar issues have been raised over Google and Apple Inc.’s digital assistants, triggering privacy fears across the world, as intimate conversations in some users’ homes were laid bare to technicians fine-tuning the technology.EU regulators are now working on a common approach on how to police the technology, said Tine Larsen, head of the data protection authority in Luxembourg, where the U.S. retail giant has its European base and employs a staff of more than 2,000.“Because it’s a question of principle, the members of the EDPB should work out a common position in line with the consistency mechanism to apply data protection rules in a harmonized way for this type of treatment,” she said, referring to a panel of regulators from across the 28-nation EU.The revelations of the snooping into people’s homes came after regulators across Europe were handed beefed-up powers with its General Data Protection Regulation in May 2018, including the right to levy fines of as much as 4% of a company’s global annual sales for the most serious violations. But the move toward common guidelines for digital assistants means companies should avoid fines -- for now.Larsen’s comments echo those of Helen Dixon, head of the Irish watchdog, responsible for overseeing the likes of Apple and Google.She told Bloomberg in November that the regulator first has to “bottom out fully on whether it’s true” when companies say they need to do transcripts of people’s interactions with the assistants. That’s why a focus will be first on coming up with guidelines, instead of investigations or inquiries, she said.Amazon said in a statement that “to help improve Alexa, we manually review and annotate a small fraction of 1% of Alexa requests” and that “access to data annotation tools is only granted to a limited number of employees who require them to improve the service.”EU regulators are working on a common position on the privacy issues surrounding voice assistant systems, said Johannes Caspar, head of the watchdog in Hamburg, Germany. “We urgently need common and reliable industry standards on this to better regulate” privacy protections, he said in an email.Caspar’s office initiated a number of probes into the issue, including one into Facebook over audio transcriptions from its Messenger users, he said. The questions his office has asked of Facebook have been discussed within the EDPB, the EU body of national regulators. The plan is to use the results to have a more coordinated approach by all European regulators affected by the issue, he said.Europe Mulls New Tougher Rules for Artificial IntelligenceThe U.K., which is set to leave the EU at the end of the month, will soon publish the results of a consultation into security features for smart speakers and other connected devices, with proposals for mandatory industry requirements that could lead to potential new regulation, U.K. Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan told Bloomberg Wednesday.Siri ChangesApple, whose Siri virtual assistant is embedded in its operating phone and desktop computer operating systems, pointed to an August blog post about the issue.“We know that customers have been concerned by recent reports of people listening to audio Siri recordings as part of our Siri quality evaluation process — which we call grading,” it said. “We heard their concerns, immediately suspended human grading of Siri requests and began a thorough review of our practices and policies. We’ve decided to make some changes to Siri as a result.”Google, which offers similar technology, referred to its September announcement that it would add new security protections to the way its workers listen to audio snippets, meant to help improve the product’s quality.In a blog post in September, Google said it would tell users that their audio may be listened to if they opt in to a feature that also improves audio quality. “We believe in putting you in control of your data, and we always work to keep it safe. We’re committed to being transparent about how our settings work so you can decide what works best for you,” the company said.While Amazon is escaping penalties over Alexa, Luxembourg, which is the company’s main privacy watchdog in Europe, is probing the company for other potential breaches.This follows complaints from activists that the online retailer is illegally tracking and profiling internet users without their permission, as well as not providing full access to users’ data.Amazon ‘Cooperating’The company says it’s “cooperating” with the authority, “which is at an advanced stage of its fact finding,” according to an emailed statement. The data commission declined to comment on any probes, citing local rules.French privacy activists La Quadrature du Net, filed one of the complaints on behalf of more than 10,000 customers. They urge regulators to crack down on “behavioral analysis and targeted advertising” by Amazon and levy a fine that is “as high as possible” due to the “massive, lasting and manifestly deliberate nature” of the alleged violations without the consent of its users.None of Your Business (Noyb), a group created by Austrian activist Max Schrems, followed up with a separate complaint last January over data access concerns, accusing Amazon of violating EU law by not handing over all personal data requested by a user of its Amazon Prime service.Arthur Messaud, a lawyer with La Quadrature du Net, and Schrems said they’d had no updates from the Luxembourg regulator, which is bound by strict secrecy provisions under national law, meaning it can’t reveal details until after any fines have been levies and all avenues of appeal have been exhausted.(Updates with Google response from 15th paragraph)\--With assistance from Natalia Drozdiak.To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Bodoni in Luxembourg at sbodoni@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net, Peter Chapman, Giles TurnerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Amazon to Create 1 Million Jobs in India, Expand Footprint
    Zacks

    Amazon to Create 1 Million Jobs in India, Expand Footprint

    Amazon (AMZN) intends to create 1 million jobs in India and bolster its talent pool.

  • 2019 Holiday Retail Sales Rise 4.1%, Online a Key Driver
    Zacks

    2019 Holiday Retail Sales Rise 4.1%, Online a Key Driver

    A sturdy labor market, rising income and improving confidence certainly encouraged consumers to spend more. While bargain hunters did hit the streets, enthusiasm for online shopping was palpable.

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