“For having set up an excessively intrusive system for monitoring the activity and performance of employees,” Amazon France Logistique was sentenced on December 27 to a fine of 32 million euros by the National Commission for Informatics and of Liberties (CNIL) according to a press release from the body published Tuesday January 23.

For the instance, the collection of data by scanners used by warehouse employees to process packages constitutes an “excessive activity and performance monitoring system”, “leading the employee to potentially have to justify each break or interruption”. These scanners record inactivity times greater than ten minutes or the rate at which packages are processed. The CNIL also considers it “excessive to keep all the data collected by the system as well as the resulting statistical indicators, for all employees and temporary workers, by keeping them for thirty-one days”.

The French privacy watchdog has sanctioned Amazon France Logistique on the basis of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and imposed a fine equivalent to around 3% of the French company’s turnover. An “almost unprecedented” sanction, she stressed to Agence France-Presse (AFP), the maximum incurred being a fine of 4% of turnover.

A system of “continuous pressure” on employees

Three indicators recorded by the scanners and transmitted to managers particularly attracted the attention of the control body. The “stow machine gun” which notes when an item is scanned “too quickly”, in less than 1.25 seconds, and the “idle time” which signals a period of inactivity of a scanner for more than ten minutes .

Another indicator measures the time elapsed “between the moment when the employee badged at the entrance to the site” and when he scanned his first package, the CNIL further explained to AFP.

The body considers that this system leads employees to justify any interruption, even “of three or four minutes”, of the activity of its scanner, thus putting “continuous pressure on them”.

“We strongly disagree with the CNIL’s conclusions, which are factually incorrect, and we reserve the right to appeal,” responded an Amazon spokesperson in a press release. The group has two months to file an appeal before the Council of State.

Several thousand employees are affected by these indicators, notes the CNIL, which opened a procedure in 2019 following press articles and complaints from employees.

The CNIL also singled out the French subsidiary of the online commerce specialist for not having sufficiently informed its employees of its video surveillance system. She told AFP that she “reserves the possibility of carrying out further checks”.