How to request and download your Amazon data

Amazon collects a lot of data - here’s how to find out what it knows about you

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Odds are good that you’ve interacted with Amazon in one way or another in the last year. Nearly 70% of Americans shop on Amazon, over half of Americans have a Prime account, 71 million have its Alexa smart speakers, 31 million use a Fire TV device, and 10 million have Ring cameras.

Amazon plays a role in a lot of our lives. It’s worth knowing just how much information it collects, because it might be more than you think.

What data does Amazon collect?

Amazon collects a sizeable array of your information, allows other third parties to collect your data, and grants companies access to your data on a pretty massive scale. 

This can include your credit card info, precise geolocation, what and when you’re streaming, your search history, your photos, contacts, age, and may infer lots of other info, such as your religion (if you listen to the Quran on audiobook), your family status (if you create a wedding or baby registry, or set up a child’s profile), or your gender or race (if you participate in a survey from a 3rd party that works with Amazon, it can get those results too). 

If you have an Alexa, Amazon collects and keeps your voice recordings and the contents of everything you say to it indefinitely, and if you use Alexa Skills, third parties may be collecting your info too.

Amazon may be able to see what you do on other websites as it uses tracking tech like web cookies that can follow you around the web and hang out in the background of your browser. Amazon also gets user data from the targeted advertising industry, and can receive data such as your demographic info from other sites and companies.

What about Amazon’s weird data marketplace?

Glad you asked. Because Amazon’s weird data marketplace is huge, hosting more than 3,500 datasets for other companies to buy and sell. Some of these include Mastercard selling transaction data, and a dataset from a broker with over 260 million people’s contact information and “behavioral attributes”. 

It’s not clear if the data Amazon collects from you directly ends up being sold in this marketplace. But odds are good that someone is selling information about you here using Amazon’s infrastructure. That includes a number of data brokers that are terrible for your personal security.

So what?

Everyone’s different when it comes to what they’re comfortable with. Maybe all of this raises red flags for you, and maybe it doesn’t. It raises a couple of red flags for us. 

The biggest issue is the quantity of information Amazon collects and stores. The more information a company collects, and the longer it keeps it around, the more likely it is that some amount of your personal data is going to be exposed in a breach or a hack. No company is immune to cyberattacks, and Amazon is no stranger to these problems. It’s also struggled with employees and contractors (of which there are thousands) abusing access to private data. 

Alexa is a particular concern. By default, Amazon keeps your voice recordings and text transcripts of what you say to Alexa indefinitely. That can amount to a lot of pretty sensitive data. Just a few minutes of audio can create a voice clone capable of saying anything a bad actor wants, like approving bank transfers from your account, or impersonating a child in a kidnapping scam.

Even if you’re skeptical, we recommend requesting your Amazon data.

Why should I request my Amazon data?

Requesting companies give you a copy of your data can be a pretty eye-opening experience. Take it from the Chevy Bolt owner who requested his data from the broker LexisNexis and got 130 pages of data detailing every time he drove his car. It turns out that data – which he didn’t know was being collected – had been sold to his insurance company and used to raise his rate by 21%. 

Or take it from the Virginia lawmaker who was weirded out to see Amazon had more than 1,000 of his phone contacts, or the Reuters reporter who requested his Alexa data and got a file of 90,000 recordings – averaging about 70 Alexa recordings a day over 3 and a half years –  including conversations his children had had with Alexa and private family moments, all of which he didn’t realize was Amazon was storing. 

Requesting your data empowers you to make better informed decisions about your personal information and how you interact with the digital devices in your life. It may raise questions you didn’t know you should be asking. Knowledge is power, after all, and with a little know-how, requesting your data can be pretty simple.

How to request your Amazon data

  1. Login to your Amazon account and visit this portal.
  2. Use the drop down menu to select what of the 16 categories available you want to download. We recommend selecting Request All Your Data at the very bottom of the list. Otherwise, if you want multiple categories of data, you’ll have to submit separate requests one at a time.
  3. Hit the Submit Request button.
  4. Check your email for the verification link, and click it. Once you submit, Amazon will send you a confirmation link to your email to authenticate your request. Make sure to do this last step, otherwise you won’t get your data!

According to Amazon, getting your data “should not take more than a month.” You’ll probably get it much quicker than that – within a few days – and you’ll have 90 days to download it. 

Once you have your data, you’ll want to keep it safe. We recommend either deleting it after you’ve spent some time with it, or storing it somewhere secure, like a physical hard drive. 

Now it’s worth noting up front that there are limitations to the data you’ll get from Amazon. For example, if you have an Alexa and use Skills (Alexa’s version of an app), requesting your data won’t include the data the third parties behind those skills have collected about you. Requesting your Amazon data also won’t include information that other companies are selling about you on Amazon’s data marketplace. 

We still argue it’s worth doing. You never know what you might learn.


R.J. Cross

Director, Don't Sell My Data Campaign, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

R.J. focuses on data privacy issues and the commercialization of personal data in the digital age. Her work ranges from consumer harms like scams and data breaches, to manipulative targeted advertising, to keeping kids safe online. In her work at Frontier Group, she has authored research reports on government transparency, predatory auto lending and consumer debt. Her work has appeared in WIRED magazine, CBS Mornings and USA Today, among other outlets. When she’s not protecting the public interest, she is an avid reader, fiction writer and birder.