Amazon Sued For Wiretapping Drivers’ Closed Facebook Groups

On Friday, Amazon Flex Driver Drickey Jackson alleged that Amazon “wiretapp(ed) the electronic communications of Amazon Flex Drivers’ closed Facebook groups,” according to a class action complaint filed in the Souther District of California.

The complaint noted that “in addition to its own drivers, Amazon contracts out to over 800 service delivery partners. These contract drivers are referred to as Flex Drivers.” The plaintiff stated that Amazon Flex Drivers have complained about a myriad of issues surrounding their employment, such as “lack of job security, little to no benefits, and low pay,” but, in order to discuss these issues with other Flex Drivers, the plaintiff and putative class formed and joined private Facebook groups solely for Amazon Flex Drivers.

According to the complaint, Amazon sought to “ secretly observe and monitor Flex Drivers’ electronic communications and confidential postings in their closed Facebook groups, through the use of monitoring tools, automated software, and dedicated employees with backgrounds in signals intelligence and communications intelligence,” who purportedly deployed said tools “as part of their … duties on behalf of Amazon.” In particular, the plaintiff cited the existence of a document listing 43 closed Flex Driver Facebook groups that Amazon purportedly monitors. 

Jackson averred that Amazon secretly monitored these closed groups to collect information “about planned strikes or protests, unionizing efforts, pay, benefits, deliveries, warehouse conditions, driving conditions, and whether workers had been approached by researchers examining Amazon’s workforce.”

The issues raised in the closed groups are allegedly “compiled into reports and delivered to Amazon’s Corporate Department. The reports are then filtered and categorized through a tool called the ‘Social Media Bank’” where some content is flagged. The complaint noted that the Social Media Bank has a login page, which says “most of the Post/Comment screenshots within the site are from closed Facebook groups. It will have a detrimental effect if it falls within the reach of any of our Delivery partners. DO NOT SHARE without proper authentication.”

Jackson claimed that he communicated with other Flex Drivers in closed Facebook groups on topics such as “Amazon missing payments, driving routes, checking into the warehouse five minutes before shifts started, no breaks during driving shifts, deliver[ie]s, and having to drive after shifts ended to finish delivering packages, which resulted in subsequent labor disputes with Amazon.”

The plaintiff contended that Amazon violated the California Invasion of Privacy Act, engaged in intrusion upon seclusion, and violated the putative class’s privacy rights protected under the California Constitution.

The plaintiff is represented by Bursor & Fisher, P.A.