French Regulator Imposes €32 Million Fine on Amazon’s Warehouse Operator for Intrusive Surveillance

French Regulator Imposes €32 Million Fine on Amazon's Warehouse Operator | The Enterprise World

(Source – NY1)

The local operator of Amazon’s warehouse operator in France is facing a substantial €32 million ($35 million) fine from the French Data Protection Authority, known as CNIL, for employing what has been deemed an “excessively intrusive” surveillance system to monitor its workers.

In a statement released on Tuesday, CNIL disclosed that Amazon France Logistique provided warehouse staff with scanners that meticulously recorded their periods of inactivity and the speed at which they completed specific tasks, such as retrieving or shelving items. The regulatory body deemed the scanner system excessive, citing concerns that it measured work interruptions with such precision that it potentially compelled employees to justify every break or interruption.

Employees take sufficient time to follow safety guidelines 

Amazon responded with a statement posted on its European Union site, expressing strong disagreement with CNIL’s conclusions and reserving the right to file an appeal. The e-commerce giant emphasized that Amazon’s warehouse operator management systems, including surveillance measures, are industry standards crucial for ensuring the safety, quality, and efficiency of operations, as well as tracking inventory storage and package processing promptly.

One specific aspect of the scanner system highlighted by CNIL is its assessment of whether a worker scanned an item less than 1.25 seconds after scanning the previous item. Amazon justified this metric as essential to ensure that employees take sufficient time to follow safety guidelines for product storage and inspect parcels adequately before storage. However, the company has decided to deactivate the collection of this data following CNIL’s inquiries.

Additionally, the CNIL found that staff were classified as “idle” if their scanners remained inactive for at least 10 minutes. Amazon argued that this data helped identify potential issues affecting the firm’s operations or the safety of its employees. In response to CNIL’s findings, Amazon has announced its intention to extend the threshold for logging “idle time” to 30 minutes.

Creating continuous pressure on Amazon’s warehouse operator

The third indicator scrutinized by CNIL involved signaling when a worker’s scanner was interrupted for one to 10 minutes. The regulator criticized these systems for subjecting employees to close surveillance during all tasks performed with scanners, creating continuous pressure on the workforce. CNIL further asserted that such monitoring provided Amazon with a competitive advantage over other players in the online sales market.

The fine, imposed in late December, resulted from CNIL’s investigations into Amazon’s warehouse operator practices and complaints from employees. CNIL discovered that Amazon France Logistique retained data on staff performance for an excessive 31-day period, deeming it another instance of intrusive data management practices. Amazon is currently evaluating its options and considering an appeal in response to the significant fine.

Also Read: How to Get Started Selling on Amazon? 

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