Amazon sentenced for breach of private data

Amazon was fined 746 million euros for failing to comply with European regulations on the protection of Internet users’ private data (GDPR), the heaviest financial penalty ever imposed under these rules. The news was announced on Friday July 30 by the firm in a stock market document, but the conviction dates back to mid-July. Immediately, the company saw its stock drop by more than 7% on the stock market shortly after the opening of Wall Street.

At the origin of this conviction, the association for the defense of freedoms La Quadrature du Net had filed five complaints with the French gendarme of personal data, the Cnil, against Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft at the end of May 2018, after the entry into force of the GDPR regulations. Amazon having its European headquarters in Luxembourg, the CNIL had transmitted the file, which resulted in this fine. The company announced that it had “To appeal”.

Convictions on the rise

In 2018, Brussels tried to bring order to the use of digital data by formulating a general data protection regulation, which has established itself as a global benchmark. Outside of Europe, the American justice validated in 2020 a fine of 5 billion dollars imposed on Facebook for not having known how to protect personal data.

In Europe, Amazon has already been fined 35 million euros in 2020 by the CNIL for non-compliance with the legislation on cookies and advertising trackers. Google had for its part been the subject of a fine of 100 million euros, as well as another of 50 million euros the latter being already linked to the GDPR.

The latest report from the European Commission from June 2020 on the implementation of data protection regulations reports around 785 fines issued by 22 data protection authorities in the European Union between May 25, 2018 and November 30, 2019.

The novelty of the current conviction, however, lies in its amount. Usually in Europe, the penalties are much lower than the one just imposed on Amazon. “This historic sanction strikes at the heart of the GAFAM predation system and must be applauded as such”, reacted the Quadrature du net in a press release. The association recalls that its complaint aimed “The advertising targeting system imposed by Amazon (…) carried out without our free consent”.


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