• Power Accrues to the Powerful: Amazon’s Market Share, Customer Surveillance, and Internet Dominance

    Dana Williams (see profile)
    Spying, Area studies, Book industries and trade, Economics--Sociological aspects
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    corporate personhood, cloud computing, data privacy, capitalism, Surveillance studies, Book trade, Economic sociology
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    Amazon.com exemplifies modern capitalism’s ethos of market dominance through digital technology. Amazon’s one primary objective: making as much profit as possible. To achieve this goal, Amazon uses multiple, common strategies: monopolistic practices and increasing market-share, vertical integration, political lobbying, and tax avoidance. This chapter explores the extent of Amazon’s market dominance—nearly half of all e-commerce purchases and more than 5 percent of all retail sales—and its consequences. Click consumerism and addictive purchasing through Amazon.com and third-party sellers, now so ubiquitous online, has been Amazon’s pioneering achievement. Amazon has also normalized a culture of surveillance as service, on behalf of governments and corporations; customer data is sold to third-parties and the Echo tool listens to all home conversations. The Rekognition platform provides facial recognition for clients, including law enforcement, despite threats to privacy and common misidentifications. In the process, Amazon has empowered state hierarchies, such as ICE, CIA, and, potentially, the DoD, providing efficient computing power via Amazon Web Services. Amazon is not conceptually unique within corporate America, just fundamentally unique in scale and capacity, exemplary of an unregulated economic system that facilitates monopolies, addicts and spies on consumers, and reinforces hierarchies generally.
    Published as:
    Book chapter    
    Last Updated:
    2 years ago
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