For consumers looking to maintain their personal privacy, shopping on the Internet at places such as Amazon.com may not be the best place to purchase gifts, at least during the holiday season as the website can determine a person’s religion via the type of wrapping paper chosen.
Websites such as Amazon are a mining data based on consumers shopping habits, location, music taste, and other elements of their lives. But the latest piece of information they can collect from consumer purchases is their religion.
A blogger at Slashdot spent this past Christmas day reading a patent recently granted to Amazon for “Mining of User Event Data to Identify Users with Common Interests.”
Among the activities examined by the site, one that happens to stand out with consumers is their choice of gift-wrap. When an Amazon user purchase a gift, the site can discover their religion by seeing what type of wrap they use, whether it says Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah.
So if a Christmas shopper picks out a Hanukkah type wrap, Amazon will target them with products related to the Jewish holiday. Consumers might want to be careful when wrapping their gifts directly through Amazon.
The blogger also posted questions to the site recently regarding what exactly qualifies as a Christmas wrap since symbols such as the Christmas tree is used as a standard holiday symbol across religions.
Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer with separate websites for countries such as Canada, United States, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan and China. It is also expected to launch its websites in Netherlands, Sweden and India.
It was founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994 and officially launched in 1995. With all the diverse people it serves in terms of nations, it seems that it would benefit the company to learn more about its customer’s lifestyles.