Low-level Amazon employees snooped on celebrities' purchases, including those of Kanye West and 'Avengers' actors, report says

Low-level Amazon employees snooped on celebrities' purchases, including those of Kanye West and 'Avengers' actors, report says
Musician Kanye West.Rich Fury/VF20/Getty Images for Vanity Fair
  • Wired and Reveal released a bombshell report on Thursday about Amazon's data security.
  • Amazon's data was reportedly so unprotected that low-level staff could snoop on specific accounts.

A new bombshell report from Wired and Reveal claims that Amazon's internal data security was so lax that low-level staff were able to snoop on people's shopping history — including celebrities.

An anonymous former Amazon service representative told Wired he had seen colleagues look up the shopping history of musician Kanye West, as well as of unnamed stars of Marvel's "Avengers" movies. They also said colleagues viewed the shopping history of one unnamed celebrity who had purchased dildos.

Other Amazon sources told Wired they had seen colleagues use their access to customer data to snoop on ex-partners.

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"Everybody, everybody did it," a former customer service manager told Wired.

An Amazon spokesperson refuted the idea that the practice was widespread, telling Insider in a statement:


"The company has invested and continues to invest in technology tools and procedures that limit access to only the data that is critical to complete a particular assignment. We have strict policies around appropriate access to customer data and require all Customer Service representatives to complete training and certify compliance with those policies. We investigate any complaints of violations and take appropriate action. We strongly reject the notion that abuse of these privileges is 'common.'"

Wired's report, which is based on interviews with former employees as well as memos and internal documents from 2015 to 2018, paints a picture of a data architecture so sprawling that Amazon had no handle on security. Gary Gagnon, who was vice president of Amazon's information security team in 2017, told Wired that when he arrived Amazon's security systems were "shocking."

"It was all put together with tape and bubblegum," Gagnon told Wired.

An Amazon spokesperson told Wired the company has an "exceptional track record of protecting customer data."

"We've invested billions of dollars over the years to build systems and processes to keep data secure, and are constantly looking for ways to improve," they added.


Representatives for Kanye West did not immediately respond when contacted by Insider.

Amazon wouldn't be the only tech company where staffers have used their access to data to spy on users. In 2020, former Uber employees told Bloomberg that members of the ride-hailing giant's security team had accessed celebrity accounts, including one belonging to Beyoncé.

In September 2020, six consultants were indicted for bribing Amazon employees more than $100,000 to help sellers gain an advantage over competitors.