Examining precedent set by French DPA’s Amazon employee monitoring fine

Amazon warehouse

The decision by France’s data regulator to fine an Amazon warehouse manager for breaches of the European Union’s privacy law over the way the company monitored employee productivity raises questions about the reach data protection authorities (DPA) have over corporate conduct—and whether they can cope with a possible increase in demand.

On Jan. 23, the CNIL announced it fined Amazon France Logistique 32 million euros (then-U.S. $35 million) over the way it tracked employees as they worked. The regulator’s main concerns were that Amazon’s use of tracking technologies and collection and retention of data was excessive and that other, less intrusive methods could have been used instead.

The CNIL also found employees were not properly informed about the extent of the monitoring until 2020—nearly two years after the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force. It noted that by breaking the law and squeezing workers to work harder and faster, Amazon could have secured an unfair advantage over its rivals.

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