Amazon Plans to “Control Online Shopping” While You’re In an Amazon Store

And by “control,” they mean “prevent.”

Photo credit: asifibhuiya, CC0 Public Domain.

A hat tip to the Seattle Review of Books for sharing this story about a terrible new Amazon development:

Amazon plans to check up on your price checks

Much to the chagrin of brick-and-mortar shops, people have been using Amazon to look up and compare prices from showrooms and other retailers since the site debuted 23 years ago.

But now, thanks to a newly granted patent, Amazon will be able to squash all that — at least, when it comes to its own stores. After a five-year wait, Amazon was recently granted a patent to stop shoppers from checking online prices from competitors when we’re in one of its shops.

Yes, Amazon is developing the capacity to monitor your internet use while in an Amazon store, and to prevent you from accessing competitors’ websites and apps. Here’s how the patent describes it:

United States Patent: 9665881

Systems and methods for controlling online shopping within a physical store or retailer location are provided. A wireless network connection may be provided to a consumer device at a retailer location on behalf of a retailer, and content requested by the consumer device via the wireless network connection may be identified. Based upon an evaluation of the identified content, a determination may be made that the consumer device is attempting to access information associated with a competitor of the retailer or an item offered for sale by the retailer. At least one control action may then be directed based upon the determination.

It looks like this patent only applies to activity on an Amazon-provided Wi-Fi network, so there will still be workarounds, at least for now.

I will say this: the last time I was in a Whole Foods, which was months ago, I went in because I needed a fancy bottle of wine and there weren’t any other grocery stores nearby—and then I spent five minutes using my smartphone to figure out what all the fancy wine words meant. I also looked up wine reviews, some of which were on competitors’ websites.

If Amazon Whole Foods prevents me from doing this, then it’s one more reason for me to avoid Whole Foods.

Whole Foods Is Amazon Now

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