France fines Amazon $35 million over ‘excessive’ worker surveillance

France’s National Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL) has fined Amazon €32 million, or about $35 million USD, for “excessively intrusive” worker surveillance that the commission says puts “continuous pressure” on employees in Amazon’s warehouses. Amazon called its conclusions, which put the company in violation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), “factually incorrect.”

Following an investigation prompted by press reports, CNIL said that Amazon’s systems measuring and restricting scanning speed (including a “stow machine gun” indicator that activates when workers are scanning too fast), along with the company’s data collection and retention practices, were “excessive” and violated several GDPR articles. So did the company’s downtime measurements, which CNIL said require workers to justify every interruption, even those as short as a minute.

Amazon responded with a lengthy statement justifying its warehouse management systems as standard practice for the industry. It said the systems are necessary to “make the daily lives of its employees easier” and to keep them safe and efficient.

Workers in the US have complained of similar surveillance issues, including that Amazon keeps cameras, monitored by managers and AI, trained on them at all times. The videos are at times flagged for workers in India to review — workers who, in a dystopian Russian nesting doll of surveillance sort of way, have said they’re also under constant productivity monitoring.


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