back to article It's 2020, so let's just go ahead and let Amazon have everyone's handprints so it can process payments

Amazon is testing out a system that can identify shoppers from their handprints so that they can be later charged for stuff. The internet giant this week described ways in which this technology, dubbed Amazon One, can and will be used. First, there's the Amazon Go way, which it will trial in two of its Go grocery stores near …

  1. jake Silver badge

    Some of us have already implemented the ...

    ... Amazon Go Away, and refuse to do business with them out of principal.

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Some of us have already implemented the ...

      > ... Amazon Go Away, and refuse to do business with them out of principal.

      So, basically, you're telling them to "talk to the hand"? I think that's what they're trying to do. ;-)

    2. nematoad Silver badge

      Re: Some of us have already implemented the ...

      Aye, shove it.

  2. Jurassic Hermit
    Big Brother

    WTF

    What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: WTF

      Amazon Go shops, for the uninitiated, work like this: as you walk in, you identify yourself using a smartphone app.

      And I'm guessing that if you don't have a smartphone app, or forgot to check in using a covidcode, it'll still try to identify you via your smartphone anyway..

      The computer system in the store then tracks your movements using cameras and AI, as well as the items you pick up from the shelves, and then as you walk out, it charges your Amazon account for the things you took. There's no cash register or scanning of barcodes, etc, it's all automatic.

      And if the cameras don't detect you picking up and putting back something you might have been considering, it'll charge you. Or because it's detected your interest, it'll spam you with recommendations to go and actually buy it. Either way, bypassing fruit & veg aisles will allow Amazon to automatically adjust your health score and insurance premiums. Data are data after all.

      Also not convinced about the 'contactless' palm scanner & suspect people will slap their palms on the readers anyway. Presumably this will have to be done every transaction to prevent thieves doing their shopping with an already registered phone.

  3. Maelstorm Bronze badge
    FAIL

    Oh HELL No!!

    Fuck you Amazon. The only way that you get my hand print is off Jeff Bezos' face when I slap him.

    They want our handprints now? Next they will fucking want the DNA of our firstborn. What if they suffer a security breach? You can't change fingerprints like you can change credit card numbers. I can see if some intelligence agency get's ahold of someone's finger prints, someone with a position of power, public trust, or with a security clearance, to create leverage to force someone to betray their country.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What if they suffer a security breach?

      yeah, what WHEN they suffer a security breach? I tell you what then: First, nothing. Then, when breach is leaked and picked up by media, this: we take the security of our customers extremely seriously.

      1. rnturn

        Re: What if they suffer a security breach?

        ``Then, when breach is leaked and picked up by media, this: we take the security of our customers extremely seriously.''

        The "This time for sure!" is implied, I guess.

    2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Oh HELL No!!

      > What if they suffer a security breach?

      Yebbut, they get two goes at a security breach before you start having to take your shoes and socks off to pay for stuff.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Oh HELL No!!

        New in today, Skin effect gloves, available with custom palmprints, just upload your prints and you can quickly change from personal to business credit card or even that one you lifted from your favourite billionaire.

    3. veti Silver badge

      Re: Oh HELL No!!

      Given the number of places now inviting you to give them your fingerprints, I think that ship has sailed. At least Amazon is still giving you the option. That's more than certain countries' border control agents do.

  4. Tim99 Silver badge
    Coat

    The Mark of the Beast?

    So, the handprint and forehead references were probably intentional?

    'John of Patmos - Revelation: 13 (King James Version)' : "... And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men" (Blue Origin?) ... "And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name".

    I don't suppose we'll find that in the Washington Post.

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: The Mark of the Beast?

      Why not circulate to all evangelical churches? Although the divine right to shop probably becomes before being Marked by the Beast.

  5. jake Silver badge

    Other commentary ...

    "The cloud compute giant said people who want to have their data deleted from the system will be able to do so."

    Does Amazon include the vast tape silo that holds the system's backups in that deletion promise? The only reason that I ask is because nobody with a clue includes "the backups" when talking about "the system" ... Backups are always inviolate and inviolable, and only touched when "the system" fails. They are certainly never deleted off-schedule. and especially never on the whim of an outsider.

    "The identification method is opt-in"

    Unless you actually want to get the sale price, in which case it's mandatory.

    "It promises that the palm prints are never held on the in-store device"

    Then how do they get into the network to be sent to "the cloud"?

    "and are encrypted"

    Home-grown encryption? Is it proprietary, or can I audit the code?

    "and processed in the cloud."

    Because as we all know, "the cloud" is completely safe and has never been compromised in any way.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Other commentary ...

      "Does Amazon include the vast tape silo that holds the system's backups in that deletion promise?"

      If the backups are held properly, it shouldn't even be feasible to go into them and delete data. It's kind of the point.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Other commentary ...

        Well, if its done correctly, each user should have their data encrypted with unique key. All copies of these keys should be deleted, making the backups for that user unusable (in the near to mid term).

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: Other commentary ...

          "Well, if its done correctly, each user should have their data encrypted with unique key. All copies of these keys should be deleted, making the backups for that user unusable (in the near to mid term)."

          How many companies do we think really encrypt each person's data with a different key? I mean, given that some companies don't encrypt the data at all.

  6. Winkypop Silver badge

    Hey Amazon

    Can you tell how I’m holding my hand up to you right now?

    Take a guess...

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: Hey Amazon

      I will give a clue: my palm is facing towards me and only two of my fingers are extended.

      1. Evil Scot

        Re: Hey Amazon

        One too many.

        1. Tim99 Silver badge

          Re: Hey Amazon

          Not on the right side of the pond.

  7. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    One-way hash?

    the palm prints are never held on the in-store device, and are encrypted

    Not that I believe what AMZN say in this case, but they could have said that palm prints will never be stored anywhere, only hashes will...

    1. RM Myers Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: One-way hash?

      Seems like a good scheme to make a hash - of privacy, that is. Amazon is trying to one-up Google in the race to own all are data.

    2. A Known Coward

      Re: One-way hash?

      A one-way hash doesn't resolve the privacy concerns - that hash can still be used to identify your palm print. If that hash ends up in the hands of any other company or government it can still be abused. "Ah, but not if a salt is used!" I hear someone cry, but if the hashes are leaked or shared by Amazon, what makes you think the salt won't be?

      The idea that hashing any private data, let alone biometric data, somehow prevents gross abuse is a fallacy.

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: One-way hash?

      Hashing doesn't do for biometrics what it does for passwords. In the case where a password is matched, there is only one question: does this stream of bytes match the stream of bytes we saw last time? You can't do that with a fingerprint because the readers are imperfect. If you only ask whether you've seen this exact fingerprint before, you'll get no nearly all of the time. Instead, you have to match certain parts and allow for inaccuracy, rotation, dirt on the finger or scanner, etc.

      There are two ways to do this. Option 1 is to keep a detailed model of the fingerprint and have an algorithm which matches components. If enough parts match, access is granted. This doesn't work with hashes because you can't match loop A from image to loop B from model without being able to look at the original model. The second way does support hashing: you write an algorithm which restricts what kind of things you're reading for and turns that into a lossy compressed model. You might have to create a bunch of those, but by restricting the things you match on, you can increase your chances of a match high enough that you can afford to hash and delete your original model. Even if you do that, the model you've hashed can be used for tracking because it's relatively easy to create theoretical fingerprints and test them. It's quite similar to passwords, which can also be tested quickly. The difference is that a salted hash of a password is intended to delay someone trying to crack them so the breech can be detected and the passwords reset. You can't reset a fingerprint, so if there's ever a breech, the people with the database now have something they can crack at their leisure.

      1. Mark 65

        Re: One-way hash?

        My guess is that in order to match hand images, palm prints, finger prints etc and not have the "customer" get too many knock-backs the matching is suitably loose. So loose that it could only ever be used in a miscarriage of justice.

  8. chivo243 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    OK, sure

    For the sake of argument, say I do sign up, give my hand print, and in 6 months, have some sort of industrial accident(say working in an Amazon whorehouse) that changes my hand print, can I update my print?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just another brick in the wall

    {apologies to Pink Floyd}

    but this is just another reason NOT to shop anywhere owned by Amazon. At the moment this is possible but in 5 years? Not if their plan for world domination goes through. We'll all be p(r)aying at the church of Bezos on an almost daily basis.

    Can we stop them? That's a difficult job when so many people are already addicted to their brand.

    Just stop buying anything from them as long as possible.

  10. Scott Broukell

    But the really great news is that you can now buy an easy-to-use and affordable 'Print a Bar Code' across Your Own Forehead Kit from Amazon! Yeah! - The Future of Fun and Fulfillment is here and it's all here Right Now!

  11. Andy The Hat Silver badge
    Joke

    Back away from the Amazonian door - this is only one step away ...

    KRYTEN: Uh-oh, a door. We'd better use an air vent.

    LISTER: No need.

    KRYTEN: Sir?

    LISTER: Look, I'm gonna do something now, Kryten, that's totally, totally

    gross. I don't want you to look. Turn around.

    KRYTEN: What?

    LISTER: Trust me, you don't wanna know!

    ...

    KRYTEN: Logically, sir, there is only one way you could have possibly

    have opened that door. I feel quite nauseous. Where is it?

    LISTER: Where's what?

    KRYTEN: Oh, sir!! You've got it in your jacket!!

    LISTER: I got us out of the hold, didn't I?

    KRYTEN: Sir, you are sick! You are a sick, sick person! How can you

    possibly even conceive of such an idea?

    LISTER: Cheer up! Or I'll beat you to death with the wet end!

    KRYTEN: Sir, if mechanoids could barf, I'd be onto my fifth bag by now.

    You're a sick person! Sick! Sick!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Back away from the Amazonian door - this is only one step away ...

      So how did he open the door?

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Re: Back away from the Amazonian door - this is only one step away ...

        The door was operated with a palm scanner.

        After the most minor of contretemps involving the Inquisitor and a chainsaw, Lister had simply borrowed the key ...

  12. Andy Non Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Amazon have become greedy and annoying

    I used to find Amazon really useful, to quickly find what I want and have it delivered without hassle. However, Amazon are becoming increasingly greedy and annoying. For the 1,000th time, no I don't want a fecking Prime subscription, now where's that little link to proceed without subscribing.

    Lately they've stopped listing the items you've ordered in emails so you can't conveniently check on your orders later, forcing you to login and look on their site in the hope you might order something else while you are there.

    They now send emails asking if your delivery was OK, but clicking yes or no isn't good enough, you have to login again... hey can we sell you something else while you're here?

    Now they want our handprints. As someone else suggested what's next, a DNA sample? Maybe a barcode stamped on our foreheads?

    They try to invade our homes with Alexa gadgets and are trying to put surveillance drones in now too.

    Well feck you Amazon. I'm tired of your shite.

    1. nematoad Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Amazon have become greedy and annoying

      "...no I don't want a fecking Prime subscription, now where's that little link to proceed without subscribing."

      As far as I can see there isn't one. And the process for cancelling after you have been forcibly enrolled doesn't seem to work either. I wonder why. My sister insists on using Amazon and as she does not have the sort of bank card that allows online purchases she uses mine. Everytime I get something for her I get trapped in that Prime shit. Enough is enough. I got on to Amazon's customer help line and after struggling with the English as a second language agent I persuaded her to get the Prime admin team to set a flag on my account so that I will not be offered a prime membership in future. Whether I really have opted out is questionable but we shall see. I did refer Amazon to our local trading standards people as I felt that the tactics used were tantamount to fraud and definitely sharp practice. I still await a reply.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Amazon have become greedy and annoying

        There is a link that lets you avoid prime. I can't remember the exact text, but it's a big standard text link as opposed to the 2 big prime-option buttons.

        I agree it's nasty, but there have been times I've agreed and then give in and instantly cancelled. You get 30 data of prime, but more importantly, you get 30 days without nagging!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Amazon have become greedy and annoying

          That was meant to say bog-standard.

          And "go in" not "give in"

          sigh

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Amazon have become greedy and annoying

          Not for mine. I did that once and now they still push Prime, but they want me to pay for it and would be happy to add it to my bill right now. I only really use Amazon when I want something unusual that can't be found at more normal locations, so I never need them to deliver it right away. They don't seem to like it when users select the free shipping in two weeks option and will do anything they can to suggest that I want it on Friday and it's just a little more.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Amazon have become greedy and annoying

            I agree with your annoyance, and I'm not defending them, but I order from them at least once a month, and always find the "no-prime" and "free shipping" options, though they are never the default.

            I'm in the UK, if that makes a difference.

            I too can wait a few days.. I'm old enough to remember "please allow 28 days for delivery"..

            Kids today!

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: Amazon have become greedy and annoying

              Oh, the options are definitely there, they just keep trying to change my mind.

              What shipping option would you like? Free two-day shipping with Prime*? No. In that case, we'll do the long free shipping.

              Are you sure about that? Look at this list of Prime benefits. No? Fine, onto the next step of checkout.

              We know we already asked about shipping and this is the payment screen, but about that prime option...

              Thank you for placing your order. Might you want to sign up for Prime?

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Amazon have become greedy and annoying

      What's next?

      "Sir/madam we require that you sit on this scanner to verify your ID and to confirm the payment. No no you need not remove your clothing, we can scan through it."

      1. Andy Non Silver badge

        Re: Amazon have become greedy and annoying

        Or, just drop your pants and sit here while the probe pops up and gets your rectal scan.

    3. rnturn

      Re: Amazon have become greedy and annoying

      We're looking seriously at a condo that's within walking distance of a Whole Paycheck. I'll still be getting the car to grocery shop somewhere -- anywhere -- else.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    we’re excited

    it makes me sick every time I see a business use this expression, usually with a bonus of a moronic smile from a ceo or a packer (depending on which angle they decide to sell their "excitement" this time).

  14. ForthIsNotDead
    Unhappy

    Your opinions do not matter (sadly)

    We're old grey-beards. Luddites. Miserable old gits (and gitettes). They're not aiming this at us. If, like me, you were born some time in the 70s, you could arguably say (and I'd agree with you) that we're the last generation that attaches any concept of importance to our personal privacy.

    Your children, on the other hand, don't give a shit.

    And Amazon know it.

    This isn't for us. They *know* we won't go near it with a barge pole. They don't care about us. They are merely normalising certain purchase practices that will become the norm five, ten, fifteen years from now and will be happily and blindly accepted by our children and our children's children.

    By then, us grey-beards will all be reduced to reminiscing about the days of cash.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Your opinions do not matter (sadly)

      I wouldn't say so, it's not only the 70s and prior generations who respect their privacy.

      I was born way way back in 1991,and I've always been very pro-privacy, I've never had, nor want a Facebook account for example. I also avoid amazon the best I can (and any other privacy invasive software, websites).

      My girlfriend, who was born in 1975 on the other hand and uses Twitter and Amazon.

      I've tried explaining about the privacy implications of that, and why she shouldn't use those.

      But anyone who's ever tried to tell a women to do, or not to do something can probably guess how that went down....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But anyone who's ever tried to tell a women to do, or not to do something

        It could be that women have developed, over countless generations, a 7th sense of "filtering" what their personal males communicate, and as soon as they detect "that" preaching mode, they activate the filter, and - voila - peace and quiet. Uh-uh, they've already found a name for this, mansplaining?! Oh, the indignity!

        Jesting aside, it is irritating when (usually) young people filter out useful, or just mildly interesting information. Yesterday, my early teen daughter spent just short of 3 hours doing a "research" on amazon pages for a phone case (she's been promised a replacement handst, 2nd hand one, by her grandpa). I tried to explain that it's just a fucking case and what's important, well, ARGUABLY important is what sits inside that case what the f... does it matter if it light pearl, semi-translucent or reflective blue. I tried to explain that 99.99% of those amazon specs are cut&paste, and 100% photos are photoshopped and 100% of the positive reviews are fakes. No matter, 3 hrs (of not my life) - gone. And then, she couldn't last past 30 seconds of a 10 min youtube video on how bees produce honey... Like WTF is wrong with these youngsters?! :D

        1. usbac

          Re: But anyone who's ever tried to tell a women to do, or not to do something

          What's wrong? They are morons. They are the product of constant manipulation from advertisers, the large tech companies, and the media. Add to that a nearly useless public education system, and you have a generation of morons.

          Everybody thinks the end of humanity will come from things like an asteroid hitting the earth, or some kind of global plague. No, I think it will be that future generations will become too stupid to even feed themselves (we are getting close to that now!).

          Then some other species will take over the planet. I think it will be the cats. My cats already seem to know how to work half of the mechanical things in my house. Who knows, maybe they already know how to work everything, but they just don't want us to know?

        2. Bernard M. Orwell

          Re: But anyone who's ever tried to tell a women to do, or not to do something

          "And then, she couldn't last past 30 seconds of a 10 min youtube video on how bees produce honey... Like WTF is wrong with these youngsters?! :D"

          Get TikTok. Look up "#POV" clips.

          There. Thats whats wrong with them.

          Now, delete TikTok and scrub your brain immediately.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Your opinions do not matter (sadly)

      I fully agree they're not targeting the old school club, but the current I-don't-care generation, and no matter how much we rant and froth (think UK-EU brexit negotiations), they will have their way.

      The only hope I have is that the I-don't-care generation will grow up to see the light. That said, if they give up their fingerprints, mugshots and dna, full location, employment, health and debt history, what good does it do that, at some point, they come to "see the light"? They'll fucked anyway.

    3. Giles C Bronze badge

      Re: Your opinions do not matter (sadly)

      Although clean shaven maybe I am getting to be a greybeard...

      Always pay cash in supermarkets and don’t have any loyalty (data harvesting) cards.

      Don’t use Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media. I do have LinkedIn but that is on a separate work only computer and is useful for job hunting (tracking down recruitment people mostly).

      Also can bore young timers stupid over the days of 56k modems....

      And still not even out of my forties.....

  15. Flywheel Silver badge
    Coat

    Why palm reading?

    It'll be linked to a new Amazon service that'll read your palm and predict your future. Apparently it'll be able to read your life line and demand that payment is settled in full if it's too short or ends suddenly.

  16. plunet

    So last decade...

    Biometrics for payments.... Amazon just trialing this?

    Try going to China where Alipay has been doing facial recognition for payment for quite some time now. When you realise that between then Alipay and WeChat pay now account for something like 90% of payments for most retail transactions in China, and you realise just how far ahead payments tech is in China and how the rest of the world is in serious catch up mode. No one forces you to use it, but most retails over there now frown on needing to handle cash - even the subsistence farmer selling their goods by the side of the road have their AliPay and WeChatPay QR codes printed out to take payment.

  17. Jame_s

    i'm not touching that

    they are really trying to introduce communal touch pads during a pandemic?

    like the title says.

    1. Mark192 Silver badge

      Re: i'm not touching that

      Jame_s said "i'm not touching that

      they are really trying to introduce communal touch pads during a pandemic?"

      No - it's a contactless scanner. No touching involved.

    2. Man inna barrel

      Re: i'm not touching that

      I think the article says the technology is non-contact.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just another good reason to avoid Amazon and Bezos

    I wouldn't give either of them the steam off my urine, let alone my finger/hand prints

  19. Updraft102

    56k? Why, my first modem was 0.3k! And I was glad to have it!

    1. rnturn

      300 Baud? Yikes... I haven't used anything that slow since the acoustic coupler crapped out on the old ITT Asciscope that I borrowed from work (early-'80s) so I could work from home. I had to cobble together a connection to the phone jack to use the 1200 baud line on the back.

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