Foundation sues Amazon for massive privacy violations; Compensation for every Dutch user
The Dutch privacy foundation Stichting Data Bescherming Nederland (SDBN) is preparing to sue Amazon for massive privacy violations. According to the foundation, Amazon illegally collects and sells users' data. It wants compensation for each of the about 5 million Netherlands residents with an Amazon account.
“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,” said SDBN chairman Anouk Ruhaak. In previous individual cases involving privacy infringement, judges awarded damages ranging from 250 to 2,000 euros per person, the foundation said.
Research by the foundation found that Amazon not only gathers personal data through its own platforms but also tracks account holders’ activities on external sites by illegally placing tracking cookies. It monitors account holders’ browsing behavior “across hundred of websites commonly used in the Netherlands,” SDBN said. “These cookies are often placed even when the user explicitly rejects them.” In other cases, Amazon places cookies without explaining what the data will be used for. Amazon also collects data through thousands of third-party mobile apps like fitness trackers and apps targeting children, SDBN said.
With this “unprecedented amount of personal data,” Amazon constructs “highly comprehensive profiles on its account holders,” which it then sells to advertisers. According to SDBN, Amazon is now the third largest player in the global ad market after Google and Meta. But unlike Google and Meta, Amazon’s services aren’t free. “With Amazon, you pay twice: with your money and your data.”
Amazon is also careless in handling the data, the foundation said. It unlawfully ships collected data to the United States without the necessary safeguards, and it doesn’t securely store the data, allowing its staff easy access. Amazon has had numerous hacks and data breaches, and account holders’ data “is now widely circulating on the dark web,” said SDBN.
“Amazon’s practices trample upon the fundamental rights of at least 5 million Dutch individuals who have created an Amazon account in recent years. They are unwittingly influenced, exploited, and exposed to a plethora of risks,” Ruhaak said. “Amazon prioritizes profits over its customers’ interest, amassing billions of euros worldwide each year.”
The SDBN invited Amazon to end its illegal practices and compensate Dutch account holders. “Should Amazon refuse to cooperate, SDBN will pursue a class-action lawsuit.”
Anyone in the Netherlands can join this lawsuit provided they have or had an account on an Amazon service - the online store, Prime Video, Twitch, Audible, among others - from 25 May 2018 to the present. May 2018 is when Europe’s current privacy legislation took effect. Those interested can sign up here.