Dutch claim for privacy violation by Amazon
Ecommerce giant Amazon is imperceptibly tracking visitors’ online behavior after they leave the marketplace. Even when they did not give permission for cookies to be placed. The Dutch Foundation for Data Protection (SDBN) is starting a mass claim, as at least five million Dutch customers have been duped.
It is not the first time that the online marketplace is criticized in Europe. It was investigated by watchdogs in the United Kingdom and Germany for its pricing and instruments used to control marketplace sellers. In Italy, it was fined 1.13 billion euros by the Italian market authority for abusing its market dominance.
In 2021, the marketplace was fined 746 million euros by the European Union in Luxembourg. The marketplace was accused for processing personal data, in violation of the General Data Protection Regulation. After that fine, the Dutch SDBN started investigating the marketplace as well.
‘Amazon installs tracking cookies without permission.’
Amazon installs “tracking cookies” on visitors, even when the visitor does not give permission. These are small files that track the visitors’ online behavior. “Those cookies are already placed before the user makes a choice whether to accept them or not,” explains Anouk Ruhaak, president of SDBN. “And if they are rejected, they just stay there.”
Visitor is being followed
Through these cookies, Amazon primarily collects data when a visitor leaves the site. “Users are followed unnoticed and without consent. On at least five hundred sites and apps visited by many Dutch people, their online behavior is tracked in this way and passed on to Amazon.” Activities that were passed on, included activities on websites like Vinted and Tripadvisor.
‘Amazon knows exactly which websites have been visited and what has been viewed there.’
“They know exactly which websites have been visited and what has been viewed there. They can see on their mobile app what other apps are opened by a visitor. Say after visiting Amazon, you go to a travel agency website or look up information about childbirth. Amazon can then show you targeted offers and ads based on the profile they create of your behavior.” The profile is said to also be saved in the United States, which violates European rules.
No response from Amazon yet
The foundation is currently awaiting a response from Amazon. Depending on that response, the foundation will either sit down with the marketplace or go to court. Whether Amazon will change anything about the privacy violation remains to be seen.
‘It is more lucrative for Amazon to continue as before.’
“Amazon has appealed the Luxembourg fine. In the meantime, nothing has changed. Even the threat of that record fine, has not had any impact yet. It is more lucrative for them to continue as before.”
Duped people can join in on claim
Dutch customers of Amazon who feel duped can join the claims case. “It is difficult to determine what damages people have suffered personally. In similar cases, compensation ranges from 250 to 2,000 euros. But there is no way to say about that now.”