Amazon is facing one of the largest fines in EU history in the order of 746 million Euros ($888 Million) for allegedly violating the region’s strict data privacy laws.
According to a report by Bloomberg the e-commerce giant was fined by Luxembourg in a July 16 decision that accused Amazon of violating Europe’s famous General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR.
Amazon was quick to respond to the accusation while reporting the company’s earnings in a 10-Q filing to the SEC. The online retailer discredited the claims as being “without merit.”
The company expounded on their stand saying:
“There has been no data breach, and no customer data has been exposed to any third party. These facts are undisputed. We strongly disagree with the CNPD’s ruling, and we intend to appeal. The decision relating to how we show customers relevant advertising relies on subjective and untested interpretations of European privacy law, and the proposed fine is entirely out of proportion with even that interpretation.”
The fine was a result of a probe started way back in 2018 by privacy rights group La Quadrature du Net. The group cautiously welcomed the decision.
Bastien Le Querrec, a member of La Quadrature’s litigation team said “It’s a first step to see a fine that’s dissuasive, but we need to remain vigilant and see if the decision also includes an injunction to correct the infringing behavior.”
CNPD filed the complaint against the e-commerce giant because Amazon has its EU base in Luxembourg putting the local regulator in charge of monitoring the company’s data protection compliance.
The fine if effected would make it the largest in the EU’s history. Currently, that mantle is held by Google’s 50 million Euro penalty. It was issued by France’s CNIL for similarly breaching GDPR regulations. EU’s GDPR rules allow regulators to levy fines that amount to as much as 4% of a company’s global sales.
The fine is however not much of a surprise as the company has been facing quite a lot of criticism over its data practices. It is also currently being probed by the EU over its use of data from sellers and whether it uses this data to favour its own commodities over the competition. The U.K which is now a separate entity due to Brexit is also pursuing a similar probe. Germany is probing the company’s sales.
CNPD’s fine is however the heaviest and most interesting but we will have to wait to see whether it will pan out.