What tracking and privacy implications does joining the Amazon associates program have for consumers who click links? I am working for a manufacturer who is considering joining the program (they sell products on amazon) and I need to present any p...

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What tracking and privacy implications does joining the Amazon associates program have for consumers who click links? I am working for a manufacturer who is considering joining the program (they sell products on amazon) and I need to present any potential privacy concerns joining the affiliate program might pose to consumers who visit our sites and/or click on our links

Hello! Thanks for your question about tracking and privacy implications of joining the Amazon Associates Program. The most useful source I found for answering your question is the Associates Program Operating Agreement, Amazon's Privacy Notice and TermsFeed Disclaimer for Amazon Associates. The short version is Amazon does collect information from Associates' websites, according to its own Privacy Notice, which requires the websites to adjust their privacy policy if they collect information from users. You will find a deep dive of my findings below.

The Amazon Associates Program allows business owners and bloggers to place links to Amazon products in exchange for referral fees. In order to participate in the program, Associates need to comply with the Associates Program Operating Agreement. The document also includes details on the information Amazon collects from users visiting Associates' websites, which, in turn, refers to the terms of Amazon.com Privacy Notice. Therefore, the information that is tracked is listed in both, the Operating Agreement, and the Privacy Notice.

The Operating Agreement's Section 11: Additional Provisions states the following:

" By accepting this Agreement, you hereby consent to us: ...(b) monitoring, recording, using, and disclosing information about your Site and users of your Site that we obtain in connection with your display of Special Links and Content (for example, that a particular Amazon customer clicked through a Special Link from your Site before buying a Product on the Amazon Site) in accordance with the Amazon.com Privacy Notice, (c) reviewing, monitoring, crawling, and otherwise investigating your Site to verify compliance with this Agreement, and (d) using, reproducing, distributing, and displaying your implementation of Content displayed on your Site as examples of best practices in our educational materials."

From this first part of Section 11, Associates agree:
1) Amazon can monitor, record, use and disclose information about the associate's website AND the users of that website.
2) Amazon can review, monitor, crawl and investigate an associate's website to verify the compliance with the Operating Agreement.
3) Amazon can use, reproduce, distribute and display the associate's implementation of the amazon ads displayed on the associate's website to use as examples in education materials.

Although Amazon does collect data from the users of the associate's website, it does so according to their Privacy Notice, so it does not track any additional data to that which it tracks within Amazon.com.

The privacy notice includes a third-party section, which refers back to Amazon's Privacy Notice. Therefore, the Privacy Notice applies to third-parties. It states Amazon collects the following information:

- Information users provide when they search, buy, post, participate in a contest or questionnaire, or communicate with customer service in Amazon.com or one of their third-party sellers.

- Automatic information which includes the IP address; Amazon's login, e-mail address, password (it it applies); computer and connection information such as browser type, version, and time zone setting, browser plug-in types and versions, operating system, and platform; purchase history; the full URL clickstream to, through, and from Amazon Web site, including date and time; cookie number; products viewed or searched for.

- Other automatically collected information from browser data such as cookies, Flash Local Shared Objects, or similar; software tools such as JavaScript to measure and collect session information, including page response times, download errors, length of visits to certain pages, page interaction information (such as scrolling, clicks, and mouse-overs), and methods used to browse away from the page.

- Page-view information from merchants with which Amazon's operate co-branded businesses or for which it provides technical, fulfillment, advertising, or other services; search results and links, including paid listings (such as Sponsored Links); and credit history information from credit bureaus.

Amazon's Privacy Notice also includes a section on Interest-Based ads, which applies to third-parties as well. The most relevant issues are:

- Amazon collects information users make available to Amazon when they interact with Amazon sites, content, or services.

- Interest-based ads are displayed based on information from activities such as purchasing in Amazon, visiting sites that contain Amazon content or ads, interacting with Amazon tools.

- Amazon tracks cookies, web beacons (also known as action tags or single-pixel gifs), and other technologies.

- Third-parties may provide Amazon information about their users (such as demographic information) from offline and online sources.

According to the Operating Agreement Sections 5 , the Associate is responsible for including a disclaimer identifying the website as an associate as follows:

" We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites."

TermsFeed also notes that according to the Associates Program Policies Section 4, the Associate is responsible for "disclosing on your Site accurately and adequately, either through a privacy policy or otherwise, how you collect, use, store, and disclose data collected from visitors, including, where applicable, that third parties (including us and other advertisers) may serve content and advertisements, collect information directly from visitors, and place or recognize cookies on visitors’ browsers." Therefore Amazon does not require you to follow a specific Privacy Policy, but does require you to have one, in case your website collects, uses, stores, and discloses data from your website's users.

TermsFeed also includes an example of Privacy Policies from Amazon Associates:
Au Naturale Nutrition has a Privacy Policy, an Affiliate Disclosure, and a Full Disclaimer

Other examples are:

To wrap it up, Amazon does not track additional information to that which is collected on Amazon.com from users of websites participating in the Associates Program. But it does track the information in the terms of its Privacy Notice and its Interest-Based Ads Policy, which requires Associates to disclose their affiliation, and, when necessary, include a privacy policy.

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