Almost three quarters of a billion euros. That’s how high a fine that internet giant Amazon is hanging over its head. It is the largest fine ever handed out by a privacy watchdog in an EU country.
The fine decision of the Luxembourg regulator CNPD was described in financial information accompanying the presentation of new quarterly figures from Amazon. The company is appealing the decision, which is dated mid-July. Amazon’s European headquarters are in Luxembourg and the company is therefore subject to the local regulator.
The CNPD itself does not want to explain the decision yet. That is why it is still unclear exactly where Amazon went wrong according to the regulator. The internet giant itself reports that it concerns the incorrect processing of personal data. That would happen around showing personal ads to users.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) describes the privacy rules that apply within the European Union. For example, personal data may not be used for purposes for which the user has not given permission. And it states that companies must explain very clearly how they use personal data.
In 2018, this privacy law replaced the old privacy rules. The amount of fines rose sharply. When calculating fines, the global annual turnover of a company is taken into account. That may be one reason that Amazon’s fine is so high.
Amazon: no data leaked
Amazon writes that the company disagrees with the Luxembourg interpretation of European legislation and that it finds the fine too high in any case. It also writes that no customer data has been leaked to third parties.
More fines are being handed out in Europe every year based on GDPR legislation. The highest to date was a EUR 60 million fine for Google, imposed by the French regulator. The fine was related to several violations of the privacy law. For example, the company had not properly explained to users what it does with personal data. Google appealed to the highest French court, but the fine was upheld.
The American company also had a difficult day on the stock market on Friday. The share price fell by 7 percent. At the presentation of the quarterly figures, it said that sales growth will slow down as customers again buy more outside the door instead of in Amazon’s online store. And people now do other things besides shopping, explained Amazon’s chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky.
Revenue rose 27 percent last quarter to more than $113 billion. For the third quarter, the company expects revenue growth to be in the range of 10 to 16 percent compared to the same period a year earlier.
Amazon made an impressive profit of 7.8 billion dollars, compared to 5.2 billion dollars a year ago. The business cloud services division had shown strong growth.
It was the first figures presentation from new CEO Andy Jassy, who replaced founder Jeff Bezos in early July after 27 years.
Amazon largest fine ever handed out by EU privacy watchdog
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