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Data protection watchdogs urged to act over Amazon’s surveillance of workers

Over 20 union leaders representing millions of workers across Europe have called on data protection authorities to investigate Amazon's data surveillance practices in warehouses and delivery facilities. The unions allege that Amazon's use of hand scanners, activity monitoring software, video cameras, GPS devices, and other tracking technologies is excessive and potentially illegal.

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The letter, submitted to data protection authorities across the EU, highlights a growing concern about the impact of these surveillance measures on worker privacy, mental health, and physical well-being. The unions cite a recent decision by the French data protection authority (CNIL) which fined Amazon France Logistique €32 million for creating an “excessively intrusive system” for monitoring employee activity and performance.

This is not the first time Amazon has faced scrutiny over its data practices in Europe. In 2021, Luxembourg’s data protection authority issued a record €746 million fine against the company for privacy violations involving European consumer data.

Amazon’s relentless surveillance is not just about monitoring; it’s about control and intimidation, said Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union. We demand immediate change and accountability.

The unions are urging European authorities to emulate France’s example and investigate the legality of Amazon’s surveillance tactics. They also call for stricter enforcement of existing data protection regulations (GDPR) to ensure Amazon respects workers’ fundamental rights, including privacy and control over their personal data.

The pervasive and harmful surveillance tactics employed by Amazon not only undermine the trust between workers and management but also highlight a systemic disregard for our privacy laws. It’s high time that we stand up and demand that these multinational companies respect workers’ personal data and their right to a dignified workplace. We need robust action now to ensure that our laws are fully enforced,” asserts Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa.