Why you shouldn’t buy Amazon’s Fire Phone

“Amazon launched a new smartphone this week. It’s called the Amazon Fire phone, and it sports some unique hardware, software and services,” Mike Elgan reports for Computerworld.

“It’s the most effective device ever sold for harvesting the personal data from its owner,” Elgan reports. “Here’s a shocking fact about Firefly: When the Firefly button is pressed, a picture and audio clip plus GPS coordinates are all uploaded to Amazon’s servers every time. Amazon retains the data on their servers. If you want it to recognize a song, it still uploads a picture. If you want to recognize a product, it still uploads an audio clip. What is promoted as a user benefit (one-button for recognizing anything) is in fact the opening of a window to let Amazon into your life (which users have already granted permission for).”

“It’s not hard to see how this data could help Amazon know you better, and in fact construct a highly accurate and detailed profile about you and your life, your family, your activities and your interests. Firefly takes data harvesting to a whole new, unprecedented level. It can harvest user data totally unrelated to the feature you think you’re using,” Elgan reports. “Because the Fire phone and Amazon are capable of the most comprehensive and aggressive personal data harvesting ever offered in any product, Amazon needs to be far more transparent and detailed about what the phone actually does, what it will do in the future and how Amazon uses and protects all this data now and in the future. So until they do that, my strong recommendation is: Do not buy the Amazon Fire phone.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Amazon Fire Phone could add 55% to users’ shopping bills – June 20, 2014
Amazon’s Misfire Phone: How Jeff Bezos failed – June 19, 2014
Amazon’s Fire Phone might be the biggest privacy invasion ever – June 19, 2014
Analyst: No impact to Apple iPhone from Amazon ‘Fire Phone’ – June 19, 2014
Amazon launches shopping machine masquerading as a phone – June 18, 2014
Amazon Fire Phone’s Firefly feature: Apple’s iPhone already has it – June 18, 2014
Amazon shows ‘Fire Phone’ with 4.7-inch 3-D display to court mobile shoppers – June 18, 2014
Analyst: Amazon smartphone no threat to Apple’s iPhone, but Android phone makers beware – June 17, 2014


  1. One step closer to great and wonderful Big Brother of OZ. It’s going to be interesting to see if there is a flock of humans who actually take to this sort of benevolent corporate watchful eye on their lives.

    I find it appalling. I’d crack open the phone to disable the GPS tracking, at the very least. 😕

    1. Idea: A small radio jamming unit you stick on your phone to stop it from picking up GPS satellite signals. It takes a small flat replaceable battery you’d find in hearing aids. Click on it to turn it off or on. No phone cracking required. I wonder if a simple magnet would suffice? Let me retire to my laboratory to perform some eXpERiMenTs! 😉

      1. Within the U.S. ANY transmitter that jams the GPS signals is illegal — even if it only jams a area of a few feet from the transmitter. The only organizations allowed to use them in the U.S. are those that are part of the U.S. federal government and even then only for specific purposes.

        1. Even within the tiny locality of your phone? I do recall reading the related article this past week about the jammer gadgets from China.

          I have no doubt that personal portable EMP devices will be similarly outlawed, if anyone ever figures out how to make them personal and portable and usable without killing the user. But if personal drones really do what they promise and annoy the hell out of everyone, there will be lots and lots of personal portable EMP devices about amongst the populace anyway. 😉

    2. That excerpt from the article made it seem like Amazon is trying to outdo Google in its harvesting of us mere human husks. Wait. If Amazon, Google, and the NSA — throw in all the others, ’cause the game’s the same — all are preying on us like information-sucking maggots, what chance do we have?

      1. Today’s synchronicity is that I was watching a film in the wee hours last night called ‘Gamer’, provided by a net friend on Veetle. It featured a maniacal geneticist who designed nanites that replace human brain cells with its own designed genetically engineered brain cells. The maniac has signal sending cells. The victims have receiving cells. He puppets them to do whatever he wants. (I won’t spoil the plot further).

        Central to the plot is the song “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”. While watching I wondered who was singing it. So it ends up playing this morning on my local NPR station. It’s Sinatra singing, not Davis. Interesting.

        Then this article shows up, and gee. Doesn’t it all sound so repetitive? Treat the customer has your trained pet monkey with a brain implant to do what you tell it to do? Go shopping. Go shopping some more! Go shopping till you drop!! Get a nurse to help you hobble around while you SHOP!!! With your last dying breath go into debt shopping until you’re BANKRUPT! Your relatives will get stuck with the bill!!!!!

        Simple parasitism. It’s exactly entirely akin with the bogus mortage loan con-job of 2007 that dumped us into the global depression of 2008. Short term ‘GIVE US ALL YOUR MONEY NOW!’, long term catastrophe. ‘No more future any more.’

        OK clowns. It’s time to pile back into your clown car and drive out of the circus tent. Let’s get back to actual capitalism again.

        1. Derek, you crack me up. Then, when I stop laughing, I realise the number of associations you’ve strung together, and I toss my playbook of metaphors and analogies over my shoulder in disgust.

          1. You’re so very kind. Thank you dear goddess. You know I admire you as well. I hope we get to do some work together in the future. …For now, I’m still working on my writing, and of course diverting myself with seemingly related things, like working up the font I want to use into italic, bold and bold/italic styles. I’m happy just keeping the soup stirring. 😉

            1. I should also say that the ‘synchronicity’ stuff above is a good example of what I call ‘Monkey Bar Synchronicity’. Which of course is amusing because of the included pet monkey metaphor. I have a subconscious that enjoys entertaining me, and apparently itself. Not that it isn’t very annoying as well at times.

            2. Thx — although, what is it with you font jockeys? You and John Gruber! Is this terminal OCD, or what? Serifs? Seriously? That’s going to save civilisation? /s

            3. I’m trained in fonts by some very nice, very opinionated people. I know what works for me. I know the classical rules. One of my grandfathers ran a local newspaper, so it’s in the family.

              I get slammed a lot for pointing out the classic rule that you assist the reader in reading long lengths of text with a serif font. I got slammed in school one time for attempting to break that rule, This was circa 1987, I don’t like John Gruber’s font. I have zero comprehension as to the point of forcing san-serif down people’s eyeballs. The same goes here at MDN, although neither use a harsh sans-serif, so I live with it.

              What I want to do for this one set of stories I’ve been working on is use a font that fits with the character of the stories and is not a font ever used before for reading. It has to be both fitting and foreign to the reader. I found the font. (Not telling!) It is what I call a ‘semi-serif’ font in that it has crossover characters of both sans and serif. However, due to some corporate greed I won’t go into, there are no styles for the font. So I’m using a genericized rendition of the font and making my own styles. I got fed up trying to find a plagiarized font that’s good enough. I’m giving it a go. That makes me very foolish, I am told. But for these stories, I think being foolish is part of the point. So we’ll see how it goes. If I get the styles made, I’ll be making giving them a public license of some sort, probably Creative Commons.

              As for saving civilization, got a few weeks to chat?

          1. Somebody got up in the wrong side of the bed this morning. So you speak on behalf of this entire group eh? Wow you must be someone really important or just incredibly delusional. I look forward to future childish remarks from you. You’re off to a good start.

            1. OK, enough of us love your commentary to keep you from being deleted, at least. As for having something better to do, what’s better than dropping a Maxwell Smart reference and unearthing the clueless?

  2. More and more companies are going to do this to lock people into their brand.

    This ‘Trojan horse’ effect of selling a product pretending to be something that is in reality a data mining gadget is very worrying indeed.

    This device is basically a mobile cash cow for amazon that will go to partly killing the retail shopping centres and local shops.

    If this trend catches on then expect all shopping centres to be closed down within 10 years.

    It’s all about choice, if you want to support your local economy by buying from local businesses then this isn’t the device for you.

    On the other hand if you want to kill a local business and support a global retail monopoly and don’t mind that company ‘owning you’ and killing bricks and mortar retail then buy this device.

    My choice is buy local.

  3. The problem with mike Elgan is that he’s a total hypocrite and is obsessed with google.

    Just watch his shows on twit tv and you soon notice how much of the google cool aid he drinks up.

    His twit shows are totally google biased – hey the guy is even a glass hole. Inf fact he did one show wearing the device and looked a total dick head.

    If this device was a google device he would be saying how amazing it is and everyone should buy it even though google is the data mining master.

    His views are worryingly biased, but then a gain he’s not a ‘reporter’ he’s just an internet blog monkey who is totally unaccountable for the things he writes and says, whereas a proper news reporter offers a balanced view based on sources and never a personal opinion.

    1. “… whereas a proper news reporter offers a balanced view based on sources and never a personal opinion.”

      Well good luck finding one of those nowadays.

  4. If I were a commodity, this would be an inspired idea and I’d be sleeping in Amazon’s amber goo. I this were a top-hat, I’d be a rabbit. If these people had their way, whatever rights of privacy they believed I might have had were nothing more than a matter for their creative marketing dept to circumvent. This is going to work, though, for the simple reason an acceptable percentage of people are already sufficiently hypnotized by the flashing stobe of colorful ad banners. Fortunately, Morpheus has gotten to some of us.

  5. What happens when these huge firms really DO control everything? Amazon is already very scary. Will we all end up living in rows of cages like battery hens, being let out for 20 hours a day to work for slave wages, paid in company credit against our “rent” and other debts? Depressing, and I hope not inevitable.

  6. How about the fact that I have a perfectly good iPhone that is fully paid for? I bought it at FULL PRICE a bit over a year ago. Then I signed on with a PREPAID CELL PHONE COMPANY (no contract!) saving about $40 a month. In about 16 months, I paid for my iPhone in savings. Today, it’s all gravy. I also have been getting almost double the monthly data allowance than my previous contract gave me.

    I really don’t need a another reason to not buy a Fire phone, or a Android phone, a Windows phone, or even another iPhone. Almost $500 a year in my pocket to save or spend as I feel, is all the reason I need.

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