James Pero | The Daily Mail | Source URL
Some attendees at a recent Amazon-run conference got an unwanted surprise in their event credentials.
Motherboard reports that badges for people attending Amazon Web Services's conference, called re:Invent were pre-installed with beacons that let Amazon track them as they traveled around the event.
Amazon says that data collected was anonymous and the devices were designed to monitor foot traffic and gain insight into attendance into the event.
While there were reportedly signs alerting attendees that Amazon was following their movements, some people were surprised to discover the initiative.
'Had I seen AWS themselves describe it as a 'beacon', I'd've known exactly what that means and opted the hell on out of that one,' an unnamed attendee told Motherboard.
The anonymous attendee also told Motherboard that they were tipped off to the initiative when Amazon informed attendees that lost badges would cost $150 to replace.
Beacons were reportedly enabled by a company called TurnoutNow which, in its own words: '[uses] wearable beacons and real-time analytics to give you high resolution behavioral data about every aspect of your event.'
The company says its service is designed to help optimize events and help organizers collect data to show exhibitors and also help exhibitors use data to 'prove their ROI.'
While Amazon assuaged attendees that it wasn't associating data with personally identifying information, skepticism may stem from the company's increasingly large role in technologically-enabled surveillance via its widely used Ring security cameras.
The ubiquity of the internet-enabled cameras and Ring's partnership with law enforcement has painted Amazon in a new light and has drawn the ire of civil rights activists who say the alliance between police and Amazon is unethical.