Dutch privacy foundation sues Amazon for “massive privacy violations”: Here’s the A to Z 

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The Dutch privacy foundation, Stichting Data Bescherming Nederland (SDBN), announced on Tuesday that it has filed a lawsuit against Amazon for violating data protection and consumer laws. 

SDBN demands that Amazon immediately ceases its unlawful activities and compensates every Dutch Amazon account holder for the privacy breach. 

Any Dutch person with an Amazon account can support SDBN’s case, reads the press release. 

The US e-commerce company, which has transformed into a data-driven company over the years, leverages personal data without users’ knowledge, claims SDNB. 

Chairman of SDBN Anouk Ruhaak says, “Amazon is known as a web store, but its account holders have become its most important and profitable product. Amazon exploits consumers in unacceptable ways. That has to stop immediately.”

Silicon Canals reached out to Amazon to understand their perspective. The company’s spokesperson says, “Amazon follows all legal requirements in the countries and regions where we operate. We are reviewing the content of the letter and we will comment in due course.” 

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Meanwhile, If you want to learn more about how Amazon gathers, uses, and shares user information, you can read Amazon’s official blogpost here. 

We will update the article as soon as we receive the statement from Amazon on this issue. 

Illegal tracking cookie placement

SDBN’s research reveals that e-commerce company collects personal data on its platform and tracks account holders’ online activities on external websites. 

This tracking involves the illegal placement of tracking cookies as well as monitoring account holders’ browsing behaviour across hundreds of websites commonly used in the Netherlands. 

These cookies are often placed even when users explicitly reject them. This occurs on popular websites like beleggen.nl, beaumonde.nl, geenstijl.nl, voetbal.nl, as well as all of Amazon’s websites.

In other instances, this tracking involves the illegal placement of tracking cookies without adequately informing users about the purpose of the collected data, such as on websites like Tripadvisor, Autotrack, and Funda.

The corporation collects data through thousands of third-party mobile apps, such as fitness trackers and health apps, apps targeting children, and mobile games, enabling Amazon to facilitate online advertisement sales to advertisers.

SDBN blames Amazon

According to SDBN, Amazon blatantly “disregards the principles and objectives of European Privacy Law, which also apply in the Netherlands.”

Ruhaak emphasises, “Amazon’s practices trample upon the fundamental rights of at least five million Dutch individuals who have created an Amazon account in recent years. They are unwittingly influenced, exploited, and exposed to a plethora of risks. Amazon prioritizes profits over customers’ interests, amassing billions each year.”

However, when SDBN requested access through Subject Access Requests, Amazon hid a significant portion of the collected data, claims SDBN. 

The Dutch privacy foundation also accused Amazon of carelessly and unlawfully shipping personal data to the US without necessary safeguards. 

“To make matters worse, Amazon fails to securely store personal data, allowing staff easy access. This lax approach has already resulted in numerous major hacks and data breaches. Consequently, the personal information of account holders is now widely circulated on the Darkweb,” says SDBN.

Faced multiple penalties

The e-commerce tech giant has already faced multiple fines for privacy breaches, amounting to significant penalties. 

For example, Luxembourg’s privacy watchdog, Commission Nationale de la Protection des Donnees (CNPD), imposed a record-breaking fine of €746M in 2021 due to Amazon’s non-compliance with data protection laws.

In another instance, the French CNIL fined Amazon €35M in 2020. 

Despite substantial fines, Amazon failed to change its unlawful practices, states SDBN. 

Further, SDBN wants Amazon to commit to lawful practices and compensate affected Dutch account holders. 

If Amazon refuses to cooperate, SDBN will pursue a class-action lawsuit on behalf of its supporters. SDBN’s initiative benefits society as a whole, forcing Amazon to comply with the law and benefiting everyone.

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Vigneshwar Ravichandran

Vigneshwar has been a News Reporter at Silicon Canals since 2018. A seasoned technology journalist with almost a decade of experience, he covers the European startup ecosystem, from AI and Web3 to clean energy and health tech. Previously, he was a content producer and consumer product reviewer for leading Indian digital media, including NDTV, GizBot, and FoneArena. He graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Electronics and Instrumentation in Chennai and a Diploma in Broadcasting Journalism in New Delhi.

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