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Amazon Offers Whole Foods Customers an Easier Way to Pay, Just Hand Over Your Biometric Data

Amazon One, which lets you pay with your palm print, is about to get tested at a Whole Foods in Seattle

Exterior shot of a green sign reading Whole Foods Market on a glass building Shutterstock

Amazon is introducing a handy (sorry) new way to pay at some Whole Foods stores in Seattle. Amazon One allows customers to associate a credit card with their palm print, so all that’s required is swiping your hand so Amazon can verify your biometric data. And we’re sure Amazon, a historically good and chill company, isn’t planning on doing anything weird with that information!

As The Verge reported last year, Amazon One is really an “identity technology,” and the company absolutely has plans to expand the ways in which customers can use their palm print to do just about anything. They can do that by storing your palm print in the cloud, unlike with Apple’s Face ID, which stores the data in your phone. By putting it in the cloud, “you’re exposing it to hackers as well as potentially making it more accessible to interested third parties, like governments.” And also, unlike a password, you can never change your palm print if that information is compromised.

Amazon has already been using Amazon One technology at its Go and Books stores. It says the technology will launch at the Whole Foods near its Seattle headquarters today, and will be expanding in the Seattle area in the coming months. It will not, however, implement the cashier-less, “Just Walk Out” technology it employs at some of its other stores, as it says that would mean cutting jobs. Jobs where workers have had to protest unsafe working conditions and have repeatedly been denied the ability to unionize, but still jobs.

However, Amazon is selling that cashier-less technology to other companies, including at CIBO food markets in some airports, which could potentially put millions of cashier jobs at risk. And it gets us one step closer to a world in which everything we do is surveilled, even if it’s for our own supposed convenience. “Philosophically and ethically, there’s extreme value in having a physical separation between your transaction infrastructure and your physical self — your personhood and your body,” Elizabeth Renieris, a law and policy researcher who focuses on data governance and human rights issues, told The Verge. “As we merge the two ... a lot of the rights that are based on the boundedness of a person are further threatened.”

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