Amazon fires employees for leaking customer email addresses and phone numbers

Key Points
  • Amazon has fired employees for sharing some customer email addresses and phone numbers with third parties. 
  • The company didn't specify how many employees or customers were affected by the incident. 
  • It experienced a similar incident in 2018, firing one employee who disclosed customer email addresses to a seller.
A worker handles a package at the Amazon fulfillment center in Baltimore, Maryland, April 30, 2019.
Clodagh Kilcoyne | Reuters

For the second time in a week, Amazon has acknowledged that its employees improperly accessed customer data.

The company notified customers Friday that it fired several employees after they shared customer email addresses and phone numbers with third parties. The news was first reported by TechCrunch.

"The individuals responsible for this incident have been terminated and we are supporting law enforcement in their prosecution," an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement.

Amazon said no other user information was shared. The company declined to say how many employees were terminated, the number of customers impacted by the incident or why the information was shared with third parties.

The company notified affected users of the incident in an email on Friday, according to a customer email posted to Twitter. In the email, Amazon said it's against company policy for employees to share data with third parties.

In a separate incident this week, Amazon said it fired four Ring employees for abusing their access to customers' video feeds. After it terminated the employees, Amazon said Ring now limits "such data access to a smaller number of team members" and will continue to review the access to those privileges, to determine whether "they have a continuing need for access to customer information."

Amazon acknowledged a nearly identical incident in October 2018, when it fired an employee for sharing customer email addresses with a third party. In November 2018, Amazon disclosed an incident wherein an unknown number of customer names and email addresses were exposed due to a "technical error." The company also said it was investigating claims of employees leaking data for bribes, following a report from The Wall Street Journal.

Third-party sellers have become increasingly crucial to Amazon's overall business, allowing it to greatly expand the selection of products available on its site. The marketplace now represents more than half of Amazon's overall sales and has attracted millions of third-party sellers who sell products on the platform.

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