Amazon is rolling out a new feature in October that will allow its users to make campaign donations to 2020 presidential candidates using Alexa, it’s virtual voice assistant.

The company unveiled its new Alexa Political Contributions feature on Wednesday, informing users it must have voice purchasing enabled and a payment method stored in their Alexa settings to make the campaign donations.

Users will be able to use Alexa to donate up to $200 to any presidential campaign.

“Alexa, I want to make a political contribution,” users can now declare to support their candidate of choice, or “Alexa, donate [amount] to [candidate name].”

“All candidates are invited to make use of this technology,” the company said. “On-boarding is simple and doesn’t require any technical experience.”

2020 U.S. Presidential Candidates and campaigns can register to receive campaign contributions through Alexa as of Thursday, September 19, Amazon said.

However, only presidential campaigns that have set up accounts with Amazon Pay will be able to accept donations made on their behalf, but they will be subject to a 2.9 percent processing fee charge in addition to a 30 cent donation, Amazon spokeswoman Kerry Hall told The Washington Post.

Candidates must also be defined by the Federal Election Commission as “principal campaign committees” and “have a U.S.-based street address, a U.S.-based bank account, a credit card associated with a U.S. street address and a U.S. based phone number” in order to be permitted to use the feature.

Amazon, founded by Jeff Bezos who also owns the Washington Post, is gearing up to provide users with “the most relevant, accurate and timely information about elections and candidates.” 

“We federate across hundreds of information sources and we collaborate with nonpartisan organizations to provide customers with information on polls, ballots, results and more,” the company website states, assuring “Alexa herself does not have opinions on politics or candidates.”

“If you’re looking to get a refresher on how the election
process works, an update about who’s in the running and who’s not, the timing
for the next debate, or simply learn more about a candidate’s stance on a
particular issue—just ask Alexa,” the announcement reads.

Amazon came under fire earlier this year after an investigation
by Bloomberg news
uncovered Amazon violated its users’ privacy by allowing
thousands of workers to listen to voice recordings captured by the Alexa and company’s
Echo “smart” speaker devices in people’s homes.

To prevent “unintended donations,” Amazon recommends its users to set up a 4-digit pass code to confirm their purchases and recommends turning off voice purchases altogether.


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