This tool to study Amazon's personalization algorithm is now DISCONTINUED. started thanks to a collaboration between Claudio Agosti and the RAI, the Italian state TV, in summer 2019. We produced a free software (available on GitHub) and conducted an investigation. The findings of the investigation resulted in a media publication and the tool was also used by students and other resarchers who wanted to study Amazon’ss personalization algorithms.

The tool consists of a browser extension, a backend to process the scraped evidence, and thiss website to transform the metadata into CSV to enable the completion of analysis with external tools. We stopped maintaining the extension and the backend in 2021 although. As the tool is not up-to-date with Amazon’s current web structure, we decided to remove the tool.

Below you can find the three instances where the tool was effective to inspect Amazon internal logics:

June 2020

Warehouse of information: Amazon’s data collection practices and their relation to GDPR

Dimitri Koehorst - Universiry of Amsterdam master thesis

In recent times, data has become increasingly central to a variety of different companies. While the use of data has become widespread, there are some companies whose entire business model revolves around the use of data. One such company is Amazon. Initially it was merely an online bookstore, but as the company grew it incorporated multiple new branches, such as Amazon Web Services, which allow the company to collect data from a variety of different sources. Companies such as Amazon use this data to optimize their services, which allows them to gain certain advantages over their competitors. However, this usage of data is bound by international regulations, one of which is the GDPR, the new data protection legislation of the European Union. By using data collected from the webstore as a case study, this thesis investigates the shift of companies towards a data-oriented business model, and investigates certain problems t hat this shift brings. This is done through the research question: How can we conceptualize the data collection practices of Amazon in relation to the General Data Protection Regulation?

January 2020

December 2019

We produced a small report for the European Data Protection Supervisor as part of the recorded material: Amazon algorithm analysis and impact assessment; a video excerpt in italian (National TV channel “Rai2”, TV Program: “Petrolio”, Episode: “Il mondo (segreto) di Amazon”, 12/2019.)

May 2023

In May 2023, Tracking Exposed has been restructured and become AI Forensics.