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France fines Amazon 32 million for excessive control of its workers

France’s privacy watchdog has fined an Amazon warehouse €32 million for using an “excessively intrusive system” to monitor staff performance and activity.

The National Commission for Informatics and Liberties (CNIL) explained on Tuesday that the system allows such close surveillance of Amazon France Logistique staff that it violates the European Union’s strict privacy rules, known as the General Data Protection Regulation.

The retail giant founded by billionaire Jeff Bezos responded to the agency’s decision with a “strong” disagreement, considering that the facts reported in its conclusions are “incorrect” and announced that it will appeal the decision.

“Warehouse management systems follow the industry standard and are necessary to ensure the safety, quality and efficiency of operations and track inventory and package processing on time and in line with customer expectations,” defended the company. company in a statement.

The CNIL investigation focused on analyzing how Amazon takes advantage of the opportunity to control its employees through the manual barcode scanners they use to track packages, place them on distribution platforms and prepare them for delivery.

The company claims it only uses this system to run the business and meet its performance targets, but the CNIL maintains that it uses it to place its employees under “extreme surveillance” and “constant pressure.” ??The agency explains that the scanner, known as a “storage machine gun”, allows the company to monitor employees “up to the second” because it warns of an error if the scan is too slow, less than 1.25 seconds.

Later, with the real-time data stored , the company uses it to calculate indicators on the quality, productivity and periods of inactivity of each employee.

Practices that under EU privacy rules are “illegal”, since such precision “would require employees to justify each interruption,” said the CNIL.

In addition, the agency considers that Amazon retains worker data for too long . And he points out that it is unnecessary to maintain “every detail of the data” generated by the scanners from the previous month because real-time and weekly data are enough.

The fine of 32 million euros imposed on Amazon France Logistique represents almost 3% of the profits of the business, which in 2021 had a turnover of 1,135 million euros.

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