Amazon fined in France over alleged employee surveillance

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France’s privacy watchdog fined Amazon.com’s local warehouse management business, saying the company had put in place an “excessively intrusive” system to keep track of staff performance.

The country’s data-protection regulator, the CNIL, said Tuesday that it had fined Amazon France Logistique 32 million euros ($34.8 million), alleging the business was collecting employee data from scanners used to process packages to gauge their productivity and downtime.

The CNIL said the scanners kept track of periods of inactivity exceeding 10 minutes and when a package is scanned “too rapidly,” or in less than 1.25 seconds from the previous item, calling such a system excessive as it could pressure staff to justify each break or interruption.

The watchdog added that Amazon hadn’t properly informed employees and external visitors of video surveillance, in breach of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, the EU’s strict data-privacy and security law.

Amazon said it strongly disagrees with the CNIL and that it reserves the right to appeal, calling the conclusions “factually incorrect.” The online retail giant said use of warehouse management systems is a common industry practice to guarantee safety, efficiency and ensure that packages are processed in a timely fashion.

The CNIL said it made the decision after conducting inspections following press reports about certain practices at Amazon’s warehouses. The watchdog also said it had received several complaints from employees.

Write to Mauro Orru at mauro.orru@wsj.com

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