Last updated at 14:02 GMT, Friday, 02 March 2012

Swedish furniture giant accused of spying

Summary

2 March 2012

The Swedish furniture giant Ikea has been accused of secretly accessing police files to spy on customers and staff in its stores in France. The company is alleged to have paid private security firms to carry out checks on over 200 people. Ten Ikea employees are planning to issue a formal complaint.

Reporter
Christian Fraser

IKEA store in France

Ikea France allegedly paid the police to get secret files.

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Ikea is a company with a stringent code of conduct for its suppliers but less stringent it seems for the security firms it has employed here in France. Their head of security paid over 100 dollars a time for secret police files held on a criminal database.

Over 200 people were investigated, with requests for criminal record and vehicle registration checks, though one email calls for information on someone thought to have made "anti-globalisation remarks" - someone who had raised concerns internally of a possible eco-terrorist attack. It's reported the information was used in deciding whether to fire staff members and also in resolving disputes with certain customers.

In response the company told the BBC that Ikea has now opened a full investigation to bring to light all relevant information. "We strongly disapprove," said a spokesman, "of any illegal activity which impinges on important values like the respect of privacy." Illegal access to these files carries a penalty of up 400,000 dollars and five years in prison.

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Vocabulary

stringent

strict

suppliers

providers of goods or services

criminal database

record of illegal activity

investigated

subjected to inquiries to discover information about them

anti-globalisation

against growth on an international level

raised concerns

said they were worried

to fire

to terminate the employment of

resolving

finding a solution for

to bring to light

to discover, to make public

impinges (on)

negatively affects

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