The Dutch Data Protection Foundation (Stichting Data Bescherming Nederland – SDBN) has initiated legal proceedings against tech giant Amazon in the Rotterdam court.
SDBN’s decision comes from Amazon’s alleged unlawful practices of gathering and handling personal data of Dutch consumers.
Amazon faces legal action
Despite discussions with Amazon in June 2023, no mutually acceptable resolution has been reached, leading SDBN to initiate a class action lawsuit on behalf of affected Dutch consumers.
Affected individuals have the opportunity to participate in the lawsuit at no cost.
SDBN represents all individuals in the Netherlands who have held an account with an Amazon service (such as the web store, including Amazon.nl, Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr, Amazon.com, Prime Video, or Twitch) from May 25, 2018, the day when the GDPR came into effect.
Presently, over 13,000 individuals have come forward in support.
Fighting behalf of millions of Dutch citizens
In June 2023, SDBN charged Amazon with extensive breaches of the fundamental rights of its Dutch account holders, particularly concerning privacy, data protection, and consumer law.
The foundation demanded an immediate cessation of these practices but found Amazon to be persistently continuing these actions.
Anouk Ruhaak, Chairman of SDBN, says, “SDBN has invited Amazon to engage in discussions to reach a fair resolution. Regrettably, such a resolution failed to materialise. Consequently, SDBN has no choice but to initiate a class action against the corporation on behalf of over 5 million Dutch account holders of Amazon.”
Amazon, widely known as the world’s largest online retailer, has transformed into a data-driven company that not only sells products but also collects and processes an extensive amount of personal data.
According to SDBN, Amazon secretly collects and processes far more personal data than it reports to account holders, both inside and outside its platforms.
This data serves as a primary resource for Amazon’s highly profitable online advertising business. Due to its dominance in the global digital marketplace, Amazon can create detailed user profiles, attracting substantial profits in the online advertising industry.
Amazon’s data collection practices extend beyond its own platforms, as research conducted by SDBN suggests.
Amazon frequently monitors the online activities of account holders outside of its websites, often without explicit consent.
Consequently, the company collects an unparalleled volume of highly sensitive personal information, which is then incorporated into user profiles.
These profiles are leveraged to sell online advertising space to advertisers. Unlike companies like Google and Meta, Amazon does not offer free services, meaning users pay for their purchases with both money and personal data.
Furthermore SDBN suggests Amazon has transmitted the collected personal data to the U.S. without implementing the mandatory safeguards.
Additionally, Amazon has demonstrated an inability to maintain the security of the personal data it handles, resulting in several significant cyberattacks and data breaches in recent years.
Ruhaak says, “Amazon’s unlawful processing of personal data is very damaging. Account holders are influenced and exploited without their knowledge. Amazon, in turn, generates billions in profits from this every year. SDBN demands that tech companies like Amazon cease these actions. Since our attempts at dialogue have yielded no results, we are left with no alternative but to pursue legal action.”
Faced Faced multiple penalties
The e-commerce tech giant has 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.