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Amazon surfs on the anti-terrorism law to impose its law

(B2 – exclusive) Is the American internet sales giant Amazon using the law to collect personal data abusively? We can ask ourselves the question.

According to our information, drawn from very good sources, the American company claiming "the European anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist package" asks its sellers to provide it not only with the identities of account managers but also of leaders and even members any association wishing to open an account on its online site. In short, enough to constitute a vast file of people.

We have requested information on this fact. The answer is relatively vague. We asked what the applicable rule and article was. " We are bound by European rules » is justified, in a very laconic way, Amazon.fr which thus seems to surf on security terminologies (anti-terrorism law, anti-money laundering) to impose its own rules. By insisting a little, we obtained a second answer, as vague as the previous one, which refers to a general document which appears on the website of the Ministry of Economy and Finance and summarizes the anti-terrorist system without any reference to the obligation to which the industrialist refers.

In the same way, the compatibility of these obligations with the rules on data protection (and the CNIL in France) encountered a staggering lack of response. The first request met with a non-response. Then at our insistence, came a: “Write to the legal department” replied the assistance service of the firm, whose headquarters for Europe is based in Luxembourg, a small tax haven.

Comment: at a time when the fight against terrorism is becoming a priority, compliance by internet giants with European rules, as well as a certain transparency in their practices, which sometimes borders on the abuse of a dominant position, would be desirable.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(1) Let us specify that the European package is aimed primarily at banks and financial institutions. A priori, Amazon does not fall into this category... or that would imply that it is playing two sides. On the one hand, supplier of an online sales site, and therefore collector of sales revenue for the benefit of sellers; on the other, user of this money for investments and others.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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