Tony Paterson
The Independent
March 27, 2008

Germany’s cut-price supermarket chain Lidl was accused yesterday of using Stasi methods to spy on its staff and collect intimate details about their personal lives, including their relationships, bank accounts and the frequency of their lavatory breaks.

The allegations were published in Stern magazine, which said it had obtained hundreds of pages of surveillance reports compiled on Lidl staff in Germany and the Czech Republic by private detectives contracted to spy on employees.

Stern said the information was collected with miniature cameras that were set up in stores with the excuse that they were needed to deter shoplifters. The magazine said the style of the surveillance was almost identical to that used by the former East Germany’s notorious Stasi secret police. One excerpt read: “Wednesday 14.05. Mrs M, wants to make a mobile phone call during her break, but she receives a message telling her that she has only got 85 cents left on her prepaid phone account. She finally manages to get in touch with a girlfriend with whom she would like to cook supper, but she insists that her pay must have reached her bank account by then otherwise she won’t have any shopping money.”

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