Amazon has quietly published its transparency report and reported a slight dip in the number of government demands for user data. Surprisingly, the company revealed a slight dip in the number of requests, which is an aberration given how all the other major companies saw an increase, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter. The only company to follow similar trends like Amazon was Apple.
Amazon revealed that it received 1,841 subpoenas, 440 search warrants and 114 other court orders for user data — such as its Echo and Fire devices — during the six-month period ending 2019. Compared to the first six months of 2019, those numbers account for a 4% dip. Moreover, the company’s cloud unit Amazon Web Services(AWS) showed similar trends, with a 10% dip in requests for user data and information.
Amazon reported that it had 0 to 249 requests for both its consumer and cloud services.
The dip in numbers holds even more significance, considering the publicly sour relationship that Jeff Bezos has started to attract off late with politicians. US President Donald trump has made his dislike for Bezos and Washington Post quite public more often than not. There are now allegations, that this dislike was the reason for sudden awarding of the $10 Billion Pentagon cloud contract to Microsoft, instead of an anticipated AWS.
Bezos recent India visit also did not go too well with politicians in the country. He was snubbed by the central government with no high ranking minister even considering to meet the world’s richest man. His $1 billion India investment remark did not go down too well, with trade minister Piyush Goyal commenting, “Amazon is doing no great favor to India”.
Jeff Bezos’ rough year continued, with his phone allegedly getting hacked, speculations that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed Bin Salman may have had something to do with it. This is yet to be proven, with UN publicly calling out for a more serious and thorough investigation.
Despite all of that though, Amazon itself doesn’t seem to be in a mood to be transparent enough. With all that has happened around Bezos in the past year, one would think the company would be concerned about privacy of its users and would work on making its transparency report ‘really’ transparent. But that hasn’t really been the case. The report turned out to be more of a boiler plate, without any real intent to promote transparency.
Out of the only 3 page long report, the company spent most of its time explaining how it responds to each kind of request, rather than getting down into the actual numbers. But then, the company’s reports have been becoming more and more vague over time so this isn’t out of the blue.