Amazon.co.uk refuses to join UK charts

Amazon is treating CD sales figures more carefully than customers' personal information, critics charge

Online sales are soon to begin contributing to UK music charts, but Amazon.co.uk will not be participating, the company said Thursday. The e-tail giant is unwilling to supply its CD sales figures to Chart Information Network (CIN) -- the company which compiles the official UK charts -- because the information is private, the company said.

Amazon has recently faced criticism for its handling of customers' personal data.

"We are selective with the information that we share with external audiences, and will not be providing data for an autonomous music chart," said a spokeswoman at Amazon.co.uk. The company was unwilling to discuss the situation further, but a spokesperson at one of its largest competitors BOL suggested that Amazon was avoiding the public exposure of their sales figures.

From 1 October, leading music sites BOL, Jungle, Boxman and Audiostreet have agreed to submit their online CD sales figures to CIN for auditing and inclusion in the UK album charts.

Amazon might not be prepared to allow outsiders access to its sales figures, but the company is seen by some as being less scrupulous about the uses of its customers' private information. The e-commerce company was last week accused of breaking data protection laws by sharing customer information with its US headquarters, and Amazon's US site has reserved the right to sell customer data.

Independent action group Privacy International and the Consumer Association condemned the e-tailer for breaking EU regulations by transmitting British personal data to a self-regulated country lacking adequate levels of protection.

Amazon UK refused to comment on the situation at the time, but insisted Thursday that their privacy policy is not in conflict with the Data Protection Act. "We have had regular meetings with the Data Protection Commissioner, [who] have informed us that we are compliant with data protection law," a spokeswoman argued.

US parent Amazon.com has also been criticised for the recent change of its Terms and Conditions that meant customer information could be bought or sold as a business asset. Pushing its luck even further, the dot-com was forced to apologise Wednesday for running a price test which resulted in 6,896 customers paying more for DVDs than the lowest price offered on its Web site.

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