Monsanto Fined €400,000 In France
The French Personal Data Protection Authority (CNIL) fined US biotech company Monsanto €400,000 for illegally collecting data on public figures, journalists, activists and scientists.
The regulator says that Monsanto, which since 2018 has been owned by German chemical concern Bayer, collected the data in order to influence public opinion about some of its products, particularly glyphosate (a type of herbicide), which has often sparked sharp criticism of the company, leading to lawsuits and large fines, with the help of journalists, activists and celebrities.
The CNIL points out that the compilation of lists of influential people with their contact details is not in itself a violation of French law, but the company should have notified these people that such lists were being compiled, obtained their permission to use the data and informed them of the purpose of these actions. The investigation revealed that the lists included around 200 public figures, politicians, scientists, journalists and activists, each of whom was given a sort of rating – from one to five points – depending on their degree of influence, attitude to the topic of herbicides, genetically modified agricultural products and company activities in general.
The scandal surrounding the so-called Monsanto dossier broke in France in 2019, when Le Monde newspaper and France 2 TV channel reported it. AFP then filed a complaint against Monsanto with CNIL, stating that it considered such actions by the company unacceptable.