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Amazon Silk Browser Raises Privacy Concerns

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. | Last updated on

News over Carrier IQ's smartphone monitoring has set the tech world afire with renewed concerns over privacy. Now Amazon, one of the nation's most popular online retailers, is facing some potential privacy issues of their own.

Congressman Ed Markey, who is the co-chairman of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, has raised concerns over Amazon's Silk browser.

Silk comes pre-installed on Amazon's new Kindle Fire tablets, which has been projected to become the nation's second best-selling tablet behind Apple's iPad. Silk allows Kindle Fire owners to browse the web. One key feature of Silk is its cloud-based acceleration. It's this very feature that has drawn Rep. Markey's ire.

Silk's Cloud acceleration allows some parts of your web browsing to be stored and processed through Amazon's EC2 cloud. EC2 will cache certain websites and can render parts of loading web pages, which theoretically would make web browsing faster over time.

Rep. Markey is concerned over what kind of data could be collected from Kindle Fire owners who have their cloud acceleration turned on. After all, having Amazon's EC2 servers handle some of their web browsing may seem to indicate that the tech company could be storing a customer's browsing history.

Rep. Markey posed several questions over privacy to the retailer, who responded by saying that they will not be selling or renting customer information, reports PC World. Amazon, however, stated that customer information is a vital part of their business.

This answer apparently has not satisfied Rep. Markey, who said that the company still hasn't explicitly explained what they would be using customer information for.

It's a touchy area of law, and one that other web-based companies, including Facebook, have had to face scrutiny over. It's certainly something that may be giving consumers some pause. You might think your web browsing is confidential, but maybe it really isn't.

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