Amazon digitally tracked attendees of an AWS conference

Name badges pinged Bluetooth beacons.

Chesnot/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Amazon Web Services hosted its re:Invent conference in Las Vegas recently and Motherboard has revealed the giant of cloud computing used tech in attendees’ name badges to track their movements. Amazon says the data was anonymized and only used to gauge attendance at different events. It’s a little creepy nonetheless.

Location tracking and its implication for privacy is a hot topic right now. This week Facebook conceded it can still glean location data about users even if they’ve explicitly opted out of location sharing, and The New York Times today ran a frightening story outlining how numerous companies are profiting while building dangerously detailed records of millions of Americans’ movements.

It should be opt-in, not opt-out — While there was some signage disclosing the tracking at the conference, attendees tell Motherboard it wasn’t clear to them Bluetooth beacons were being used and, had it been, many of them would have requested to opt-out, even if Amazon did anonymize all tracking data.

Clues in costly badges — One attendee says it seemed fishy that replacement badges cost $150. With media being warned that replacement badges for CES next month will cost $300, we dread to think what sort of privacy-trampling tech those badges must be packing.

There’s doubtless a clause somewhere in the re:Invent fine print that attendees consent to tracking and, arguably, it’s Amazon’s prerogative to put whatever it likes in its event badges. But heck, it’s only polite to tell people what’s going on. Instead, we have another instance of big tech choosing to seek forgiveness rather than permission.