What you need to know
- A new report from The Wall Street Journal claims Amazon tried to use its power to put pressure on Ecobee to collect private user data.
- Ecobee decided against complying with the demand as doing so would violate customer privacy.
- The Canadian company also worried that Amazon could use the data from its users to create competing products.
Amazon leveraged its dominance to put pressure on Canadian smart thermostat maker Ecobee to share data from its devices, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. The report claims Amazon asked Ecobee to serve data from its Alexa-enabled devices even when customers weren't using them.
Ecobee apparently refused to share data with the tech giant, fearing that complying with the demand would violate the privacy of its customers. The company also worried that Amazon might use the data to build products to rival its best smart thermostats. It was revealed last year that Amazon used third-party seller data to develop rival products using its Amazon Basics brand.
Apart from Ecobee, Amazon is said to have asked a few other Alexa-enabled-device sellers to provide "proactive state" data, which would give the tech giant access to information such as the temperature of a user's home and which doors were locked or unlocked.
An Amazon spokesman, Jack Evans, told the WSJ that the company uses the proactive-state data only to "improve the customer experience and make better recommendations." He added that customers are informed that their data will be shared with Amazon when they link their accounts.
While the report says the two companies are still negotiating, Amazon had told Ecobee that it might not be able to continue selling its products on Amazon's retail platform if it refused to provide the data. The retail giant also threatened to not retain Alexa certification on future Ecobee models.
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