Dear Tom Watson – What’s Wrong With Us Selling Our Data To Amazon?

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Tom Watson is whingeing about how Amazon is investing in Deliveroo. This is not – not solely of course – just because he likes to see his name in the papers. Even a politician needs to have some sorta story to tell to manage that. It’s because Amazon desires our information. This is, apparently, a bad thing. For Tom Watson doesn’t actually believe in personal property – we shouldn’t be allowed to sell what is ours.

At least, that’s the only conclusion we can reach from this:

Amazon’s fresh push into the food delivery market was facing mounting opposition last night as critics of a $575m deal with Deliveroo voiced concerns about the control it will exercise over the UK business. Deliveroo, the food delivery company, announced on Friday that Jeff Bezos’ e-commerce empire was the lead investor in a giant $575m (£450m) funding round, taking the total amount of cash raised by the business to $1.5bn.

So what’s wrong with this idea then?

However, the investment provoked immediate controversy as Tom Watson MP, deputy leader of the Labour Party, demanded an investigation by the UK’s competition watchdog into Amazon’s ploy to get its “mighty claws” on more consumer data. “Amazon is obsessed with tracking tools, micro-targeted ads, extracting billions through monetising our personal data,” Watson said. “They want Deliveroo’s tech and data. They don’t just want to know how you eat, what you eat, when you eat. They want to know how best to extract your cash throughout your waking and sleeping hours.”

OK, Amazon wants our data. In fact, Amazon wants to buy our data. The price they pay is that delivery of food to us. Or, on the main site, recommending stuff that we might like. Just as with Facebook, what they’re selling is their website. The price we pay is our data.

Watson is saying that we shouldn’t be doing this. There’s some terrible part to this transaction. Amazon shouldn’t be allowed to buy our data that is.

And yet, is it actually our data? Watson is insisting it is, yes. Which means that it’s our property. Fine – the only useful definition of property being that we have control over the disposal of what is defined as our property. Watson says we shouldn’t be allowed to sell it. Thus it ain’t our property.

At which point, of course, if it ain’t ours then what’s so wrong with someone other than us having it?