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Germany: Swedish clothing brand H&M fined for spying on its employees

H&M fined for spying on its employees: Germany’s privacy watchdog said on Thursday it imposed a record fine of the clothing company (H&M) of 35.3 million euros ($ 41 million) after it emerged that the company had spied for years on hundreds of its employees in Germany.

The data protection commissioner in Hamburg said in a statement that the Swedish clothing company H&M had collected private information about employees at the customer service centre in the German city ​​of Nuremberg , about “details, family issues and religious beliefs”.

Employee information was recorded on a network that could be accessed by about 50 managers and “used, to obtain a file on employees, measures and decisions regarding their employment.”

“The combination of details about private life and the recording of their activities has led to an extensive encroachment on employees’ civil rights,” said Johannes Caspar, Commissioner for Data Protection.

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The privacy breach was discovered after the data was briefly visible to all people on the company’s network, which led to news reports about the information gathering.

The clothing company (H&M) said in a statement that the practices in Nuremberg did not comply with the company’s guidelines, but that it nonetheless took full responsibility and apologised to the employees. The company said it would examine the fine issued.

Caspar welcomed H&M’s decision to pay compensation to employees at the Nuremberg Service Center and take measures to prevent future privacy violations, saying that the steps “show the intention to give employees the respect and appreciation they deserve as dependent workers in their daily work for their company.