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Wed Feb 6 2019 21:28:45

Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

By: Ina Steiner

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See update below. Rumors that Amazon has been videotaping some sellers' faces (with notice) as part of its account verification process was confirmed by Buzzfeed. We had asked Amazon about such reports days ago but received no response. Today, Buzzfeed reported, "An Amazon seller based in Vietnam told BuzzFeed News that he was prompted to take a five-second video of his face using his computer's webcam in January as he signed up for a seller profile."

In a private group where sellers were discussing the practice, we saw little concern expressed about privacy - instead, some sellers applauded it as a way to crack down on bad sellers, such as those who operate ghost accounts. 

To understand their reaction, just watch the Wall Street Journal video from December that shows how some international sellers in China play by different rules, stacking the decks against US and European sellers.

But as BuzzFeed pointed out, Amazon has been criticized for various issues involving its facial recognition technology. And with many websites struggling to adhere to Europe's GDPR privacy restrictions, it's unclear how Amazon's video-vetting of sellers fits into privacy regulations.

We sent a follow-up inquiry to Amazon asking again for information about its practices and whether it was part of a program that would roll out widely to all sellers everywhere in all categories.

Advocates may say sellers have a choice about submitting to video-vetting, but if it were to become a requirement before continuing to sell on Amazon, then it's not really optional.

How do you feel about submitting to Amazon ID verification through video as a seller, or as a buyer? Would you feel differently if other marketplaces, payment services, and vendors enacted such policies? 

And how long before we'll be seeing anti facial-detection masks for sale on Amazon?

Update 2/7/2019: Amazon provided us with the following statement: "We always experiment with new ways to verify the information sellers provide us in order to protect our store from bad actors. Seller identification information is securely stored and used only for identify verification."

Update 2/15/2019: Learn about the patent behind the technology.



Comments (29) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?   Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

by: Paul W This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 7 01:10:51 2019

Sellers who think they will leave eBay for the greener pastures of Amazon are going to be stuck in even deeper quicksand.

Perminate Link for Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?   Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Thu Feb 7 02:24:14 2019

We have to do it to get our EV-SSL certificate for our own website so, it's perfectly acceptable when entering the selling arena elsewhere.
We must verify.
JUSTIFIED.

Perminate Link for Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?   Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

by: SellerGirl This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 7 05:12:27 2019

Anyone who doesn't keep their camera covered when not in intentional use is an idiot.  Anyone who volunteers to be part of a facial-recognition study using their real name in their own home has no understanding that these recordings are being stored who knows where with access by who knows who for who knows what purpose.  Your face is your most important identifier, and if you let that out in the wild it's not difficult to imagine nefarious types getting those images, finding a person who is likewise nefarious that looks enough like you to pass, then tricking your bank's website into letting them transfer all your money to their account by EFT, then when your bank does an investigation, it looks like you took the money then tried to perpetrate fraud on the bank.  You go to prison and the thieves enjoy your money.  Don't do it!

Perminate Link for Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?   Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

This user has validated their user name. by: thehosst

Thu Feb 7 05:17:48 2019

The scam team inside Amazon keeps doing their own policy on the side, Amazon is an abusive and evil monopoly, but there are groups of individuals working inside Amazopoly who create their own policy, to affect USA and EU based sellers and to benefit only Asia sellers. How many times a seller has to submit passports, taxes, driver license and photos, not to mention very detailed descriptions of the suppliers, how much they pay, how many they buy from each seller to some IDIOT who refuses to identify himself and just signs as Amazon Verification Team, or Paypal verification team, or eBay verification team or whatever they call it. Is a well organized penny making mafia and I don't see the FBI or Justice Department investigating those crooks. Amazon does not even care, too busy destroying every industry, eBay is such a mess, they not even see it, Paypal desperate to get any new business not even care. Ina, I bet that if they ask the people being asked for video of their face, the party asking for it did not have a name or contact phone or email, other than the do-not-reply@ email. Yea folks, keep wondering if you just had a bad sales week, is way more than that and getting much worst every day.  

Perminate Link for Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?   Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

This user has validated their user name. by: thehosst

Thu Feb 7 05:21:04 2019

By the way, if you have been a seller for years and already meet and submitted all necessary info, why are these rats asking for such a DNA proof just to poorly sell in an overrated marketplace where only the very big survive. I bet they don't ask for facial recognition from the CEO of Apple, when they want to sell their stuff in Amazopoly right?

Perminate Link for Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?   Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

by: Pangie777 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 7 07:01:09 2019

God's teeth, when will it end. I would rather shut down my Amazon account than go through that. I am trying to survive without having smart crap devices because I know what the future holds.

Somebody once told me off (on Amazon boards) because I dared to question the nonsense of having a back-up phone so that Amazon could contact me.

For those who love to be swaddled in tech gadgets, go for it. I will not succumb to such nonsense.

People do not realise that we CAN sell without all the gadgets and technical nonsense. It is only when other sellers say that we HAVE to have this and we have to have that, that the big companies like Amazon push for you to have even more.

The bottom line is that it is not about safety. Indeed, the more smart gadgets and tech that you have, the more easily it can be manipulated and your ID stolen.

Now they are thinking of facial recognition. I have already closed my Facebook because of this nonsense. If push comes to shove, I will be finding another way to make money and it will not be on any marketplace that insists that we become visible in this manner or have even more apps and other nonsense.

Before long, they will be wanting us to upload a blood sample for a DNA test.  

Perminate Link for Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?   Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

by: wellspring This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 7 07:51:33 2019

Along with facial recognition, they might have a body language specialist reading the person to analyze if the seller is lying or telling the truth. It’s a strange world we live in now.  

Perminate Link for Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?   Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

by: corpuschristi1956 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 7 07:58:29 2019

algorithms do not work, nothing replaces the human intellect, point and case. Humans are manipulating algorithms, not the other way around.  

Perminate Link for Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?   Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

This user has validated their user name. by: VV

Thu Feb 7 08:14:01 2019

I don't have a web cam

Perminate Link for Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?   Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

by: ccstreasure This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 7 08:47:19 2019

Amazon are in the early stages of making clones and need our faces to complete the process. So just comply and do it so they can continue to clone us. didn't you ever say you wish you could be in 2 places at one time? Now amazon will make that possible. Now please send them a drop of your blood  and stop complaining, geeze.

Perminate Link for Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?   Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

This user has validated their user name. by: David Steiner

Thu Feb 7 09:08:47 2019

@ccstreasure

 

Perminate Link for Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?   Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

This user has validated their user name. by: RavenNightMyst
Web Site

Thu Feb 7 09:34:34 2019

I may digress, but... My youngest child was born in 1997. After her birth, when they came in with the paperwork for her birth name etc, they asked us if we wanted her microchipped with all her "data", "in case she ever gets lost". "Not to worry, as it's embedded deeply enough that it wouldn't be seen or be a skin irritant". For about 5 seconds, I thought it might be a good idea, then my logical, semi-conspiracy-theory-laden brain kicked in, and I knew exactly what this chip would be used for in our increasingly dystopian world. I'm guessing my reaction was shocking to the birth registrar. Maybe not. What is interesting, is that this was either a pilot program that was cancelled, or they just don't ask anymore, as I've asked multiple families over the years with children born in the same hospital after she was, and they were never asked. Are they microchipping our newborns without asking? Facial recognition is basically a newer version of this, anyway. It repulses me.  

Perminate Link for Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?   Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

by: DingDong This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 7 09:54:55 2019

What a bad ideal. But a lot of the new tech generation just goes along with the "trend" and doesn't think of the future outcome.

A click is our signature or running a credit card without signature is getting to be a thing of the past. According to the credit card companies, it's the option of the company and that they would have to get back up of who used the credit card. I want my signature on things.

I don't have a camera on my monitor, or speakers and such. I do have my computer turned and facing a wall within a 6 foot section of a room. No way to see the house (even if I had a camera on the computer) It's very restricted because I have thought of what hackers and such can do. (They can hear over baby monitors, alexa thingy and such)

Amazon WILL be selling all of this because the law enforcement will be making deals so that they have a larger data base for finding the law breakers.

Over 20 years ago, I had a cop stop me and was able to give me my maiden name, how much I financed my truck, where my truck was financed and such. Why do the cops need all this information for a burned out light.

Perminate Link for Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?   Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Thu Feb 7 10:38:52 2019

Like "VV" above, I don't have a web cam, so I guess I won't be selling on Amazon. (Disclaimer: I've never even considered selling on Amazon.)

Perminate Link for Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?   Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

by: Ebay Little Shop of Horrors This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 7 11:19:45 2019

Think of all the money the country will save not training/employing fbi agents. All they need is a facebook, google, twitter, amazon.

This has a dark tone to it. Why would amazon want five seconds of a video of your face?

Perminate Link for Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?   Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Thu Feb 7 11:31:30 2019

Update 2/7/2019: Amazon provided us with the following statement:

"We always experiment with new ways to verify the information sellers provide us in order to protect our store from bad actors. Seller identification information is securely stored and used only for identify verification."

Perminate Link for Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?   Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

by: Ebay Little Shop of Horrors This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 7 11:33:21 2019

And, hoping not to compromise anyone's investigation, why were only a select few asked to participate?

Perminate Link for Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?   Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 7 19:58:46 2019

Why dont they protect their store from bad buyer actors?

amazon are such government shills

bezos is turning amazon into another facebook.

Perminate Link for Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?   Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

by: HappyOne This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 7 22:02:38 2019

I have to laugh. I guess some of Bezos’ technology has caught up with him - and not his face “After the tabloid published a story about his extramarital affair last month, Bezos ordered a team of private investigators to get to the bottom of how the Enquirer obtained lurid texts between the executive and former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez. Since then, there has been a public relations battle.
Earlier this week, the tabloid's editor, Dylan Howard, emailed an attorney for Bezos' longtime security consultant in order to describe photos the Enquirer ''obtained during our newsgathering.'' The photos include a ''below the belt selfie'' of Bezos, photos of him in tight boxer briefs and wearing only a towel, and several revealing photos of Sanchez, according to the email Bezos released in his blog post.”

Perminate Link for Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?   Amazon Videotapes Seller Faces - Creepy or Justified?

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Feb 8 06:41:11 2019

So is The National Enquirer giving Bezos a taste of his own medicine?

I'll actually pay National Enquirer if I never have to view that image.  : )

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