Amazon offers some users as much as $2 per month for just one tiny little thing in return: that they route their traffic through an Amazon server so the company can track which Amazon ads they’ve seen. Apparently he’s been doing this for months.
I’m not sure who needs to hear this, but you should! Not! Do! That!
The offer is part of Amazon’s Shopper Panel app, an invitation-only program that gives you up to $10 per month in Amazon credit for uploading receipts for purchases made at locations other than Amazon , and completing surveys there. I’ll say it again: even if you were willing to give up your privacy altogether, which you probably shouldn’t be, why would you for just a few bucks? If there’s anything more personal than your internet traffic, it’s a list of things you’ve bought. Receipts can and have been used as evidence in court.
According to an FAQ on Amazon’s website, if you waitlist for the Shopper Panel program, get accepted, and then turn on ad verification, you’ll be asked to turn on an always-on VPN for your phone. The company says this doesn’t actually install a VPN on your device; Instead, all of your DNS traffic is directed to an Amazon server, which notifies the company when you “see Amazon’s own ads or third-party ads advertised through Amazon Ads.”
In my opinion, that’s not much better than having it was Operation of a VPN. Sure, all of your traffic won’t go through Amazon, but theoretically your phone will still ask Amazon for directions when trying to connect to a server. (DNS does that.) Amazon says the app “uses the app’s permissions only to verify the Amazon ads you see” and that it “doesn’t receive or share any personal information with anyone,” but you have done it you have to really trust it.
And again, the benefit of this (assuming you left the “VPN” on for most of the month) is that you end up getting…$2.
Amazon is far from the first company to have such a program. Facebook had one that gave users $20 gift cards every month to run a VPN on their phone, and in 2012 Google said it would pay users $5 every three months to run a Chrome extension, tracking their usage. Another part of the program offered $20 a month if you used a special router that tracked your entire household’s Internet usage.
What’s unique about all of these programs, including Amazon, is how little money they pay people who willingly submit to a grand tech panopticon. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t mind a lack of privacy, you should at least ask for more from some of the world’s most valuable companies.