Friday 30 July 2021 5:37 pm

Amazon shares sink as EU hands down record €746m EU data privacy fine

Amazon has been hit with a record €746m (£635m) fine for breaking EU rules over how it processed customers’ personal data, the tech giant disclosed today.

In a regulatory filing Amazon said the Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection (CNPD) had issued the ruling against it for breaches of EU data protection rules on 16 July.

Shares in Amazon dropped almost 6.7 per cent on Wall Street to $3,357 a few minutes ago.

“We believe the CNPD’s decision to be without merit and intend to defend ourselves vigorously in this matter,” it said in the filing.

The fine is by far the largest to be handed down under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) framework.

GDPR requires companies to seek people’s consent before using their data, with steep fines for breaches of the rules.

Amazon said the CNPD’s ruling required it to change some of its data practices, but did not give any details about the nature of the breach.

A spokesperson for the company said: “Maintaining the security of our customers’ information and their trust are top priorities. 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.”

Prior to the fine, the largest fine handed down by EU regulators under GDPR was a €50m penalty for Google in 2019.

The hefty punishment marks efforts by global regulators to take a more aggressive approach to enforcing data protection laws.

Regulatory scrutiny of tech giants has stepped up in recent months following a string of scandals over privacy and misinformation as well as complaints from some businesses that they abuse their market power.

Google, Facebook and Apple are all facing investigations in Europe over a range of concerns such as alleged anti-competitive behaviour.

In December France’s data privacy watchdog handed down its biggest ever fine of €100m to Google for breaching the country’s rules on online advertising trackers.