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Amazon Was Just Granted a Suspicious Patent

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Since its founding in 1994, Amazon’s biggest selling point has been comparing prices.  But is the tech giant gearing up to limit this ability within its stores?  A new patent seems to imply that it will.

This past year, Amazon has opened brick and mortar locations.  By connecting to the stores’ wifi, customers walk in and out of the stores with their items.  No checkout is necessary

Recently, Amazon acquired Whole Foods – the price tag was $13.7 billion.  Prior to the merger, a suspicious patent was granted to Amazon.

The patent’s name is “physical store online shopping control”, and it seems to imply that certain freedoms of a customer may be in jeopardy.  The system monitors customers’ browsing activity over Amazon’s wifi network.  If the system detects users comparing prices, it can send the customer to a different site.  It can also shut down internet use altogether.

The New York Post writes:

The patent clearly lays out how Amazon could employ the technology, saying the e-commerce giant could interfere in “the event that requested content is determined to be associated with or potentially associated with a competitor or an item of interest.” If Amazon doesn’t like what it sees, “information may be blocked” or the customer “may be redirected to other content,” such as an Amazon webpage.

In response to a customer’s browsing, Amazon could also send a customer texts, push notifications, or a emails.

Amazon could also track customers’ locations within their stores.

While the patent has been granted, there is no guarantee that Amazon will actually implement the technology.

Historically, Amazon has supported free and open internet.  There is a possibility that Amazon has filed this patent, but it does not intend to use the technology.

About Alexander Fairfax

Alexander Fairfax

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