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Pending Amazon patent covers detailed customer profiling

An Amazon patent that is pending details how the online auction giant could compile personal data from customers to create a profile of products the person might want to buy, according to a Seattle Post-Intelligencer article Tuesday.

"The database, which would combine information disclosed voluntarily by customers with facts gleaned from public databases, conceivably would give Amazon a larger or more detailed profile of its customers than any other retailer," the article says. "Such a database would include the gender, date of birth, interests, occupation, education, income level, residence, race and ethnicity of customers for Amazon's 'gift clustering' program."

Amazon spokeswoman Patty Smith told the newspaper that Amazon.com has "no current plans" to implement such a system.

The issue of Internet companies collecting customer data has become a hot topic since AOL released anonymized Web searches of its members last week. Enough information was released to be able to connect at least one of the members' searches to a specific individual.