Big Tech companies really do think they can get away with anything don’t they? With sanctions for selling off people’s data and generally poking around in your personal business considering nothing more than simply, ‘the cost of doing business.’
But I suppose when you’re part of a multi-billion dollar elite, or trillion dollar as far as the likes of Amazon is concerned, is there really anything anyone can do to stop them doing, well, exactly what they want?
Amazon, for instance, has literally just been slapped with the biggest GDPR data privacy fine ever issued, ever. The fine, amounts to $887 million USD (£636m) which is more than double the amount of every other GDPR fine combined.
Amazon of course believes the ‘decision to be without merit’ and has said that it intends to ‘vigorously defend’ itself on the matter.
This fine, comes along at a time when GDPR has been scrutinised for being too lax when it comes to enforcement, and its fines criticised for being too meagre. GDPR investigations are often slow and ineffective, and some, want it ditched altogether.
GDPR, as a concept, is fantastic, the idea being it’s meant to of course help protect the people and their data. But when it’s a case of GDPR vs Big Tech, is it not a bit like trying to stop a runaway train with your face?
Considering this fine was $887 million, and Amazon makes approximately $638 million per DAY, and $4.5 billion a week, will they really care? Fines like this, will surely only serve to affect the workers on the ground.
For instance, the 23-year-old pregnant Amazon employee who miscarried her baby when she was denied her repeated requests for ‘lighter duty.’ The 48-year-old worker who jumped to his death at 7am from the fourth floor of the Amazon warehouse he was working in.
Might I add they kept other workers on the job in the same place their colleague had just died for nearly three hours, not letting them leave until 9.40. And these are just two (of many many) incidents, but incidents that highlight how companies like this operate.
The likes of Jeff Bezos and Andy Jassy aren’t crying themselves to sleep, whilst having a long hard think about what they’ve done. They will have been figuring out a way to make sure fines like this affect THEM and their bottom line as little as possible.
Like I say, GDPR as a concept is great, but in practice, much like the UK prison system, it is no deterrent, and if the people to suffer from these fines are the ones that haven’t committed the crime, why are they the ones doing the proverbial time? Or worse, losing their lives.
I think what we are now dealing with is without a doubt a humanitarian issue. I don’t have the answers, and I don’t know how we fix this, but this ‘we are untouchable’ vibe, emanating from big tech has to stop, and it’s going to take more than the “consequences” of a GDPR violation to stop those on the front line paying the price.
This editorial originally appeared in the Data Centre Review newsletter August 8, 2021. To ensure you receive these editorials direct to your inbox, you can subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.