February 18, 2024
France Fines Amazon's French Warehouses €32 Million Over Employee Surveillance
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France Fines Amazon’s French Warehouses €32 Million Over Employee Surveillance

France Fines Amazon’s French Warehouses €32 Million Over Employee Surveillance/AFP

France Fines Amazon’s French Warehouses €32 Million Over Employee Surveillance

France’s data protection agency, CNIL, has fined Amazon’s French warehouses unit €32 million ($34.9 million) for maintaining an “excessively intrusive” surveillance system to monitor staff performance. The system included monitoring through scanners, tracking inactivity exceeding 10 minutes, and measuring the handling of packages down to the second. CNIL found these practices in violation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), imposing strict rules on obtaining consent for personal information use. The fine amounted to about three percent of Amazon France Logistique’s annual revenue, and the company rejected the findings, reserving the right to appeal.

Amazon Objects to Findings, Cites Security and Efficiency

Amazon refuted CNIL’s findings, deeming them “factually incorrect,” and highlighted the necessity of such systems to “guarantee security, quality, and efficiency.” The company emphasized the need for tools to handle the tens of thousands of packages processed daily in its distribution centers. While acknowledging the fine was “nearly unprecedented,” CNIL noted it was not far from the maximum penalty of four percent of revenue. The watchdog initiated the inquiry in 2019 following media reports and worker complaints.

Adjustments to Surveillance Systems in Response to CNIL’s Findings

In response to CNIL’s findings, Amazon stated it would deactivate the “stow machine guns'” ability to signal handling speeds and extend “idle time” warnings from 10 to 30 minutes. The adjustments aim to address concerns raised by the data protection agency while balancing security and efficiency in Amazon’s operations.

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