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France fines Google, FB a combined $238 mn over cookie tracking

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London, Jan 7 (IANS) The French anti-trust watchdog has fined Google $170 million and Facebook $68 million for pushing tracking cookies on users and non-compliance with French legislation.

Following investigations, the Commission Nationale de I’informatique et Des Liberte (CNIL) noted that the websites facebook.com, google.fr and youtube.com do not make refusing cookies as easy as to accept them.

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“It thus fines Facebook 60 million euros and Google 150 million euros and orders them to comply within three months,” the regulator said in a statement late on Thursday.

The CNIL found that the websites facebook.com, google.fr, and youtube.com offer a button allowing the user to immediately accept cookies.

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However, they do not provide an equivalent solution (button or other) enabling the Internet user to easily refuse the deposit of these cookies.

Several clicks are required to refuse all cookies, against a single one to accept them.

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“This process affects the freedom of consent: since, on the Internet, the user expects to be able to quickly consult a website, the fact that they cannot refuse the cookies as easily as they can accept them influences their choice in favour of consent,” the French regulator noted.

In addition to the fines, the watchdog ordered the companies to provide Internet users located in France with a means of refusing cookies as simple as the existing means of accepting them, in order to guarantee their freedom of consent, within three months.

“If they fail to do so, the companies will have to pay a penalty of 100,000 euros per day of delay,” it added.

It is not the first time that the French privacy regulator has fined Big Tech.

In December 2020, the CNIL fined Amazon and Google 35 million euros and 100 million euros, respectively, for cookie violations under the e-Privacy rules.

The watchdog had also fined Google 50 million euros under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

WhatsApp was hit with a 225 million euros fine in September last year “for not being transparent about how it shared data with its parent company”, reports ZDNet.

Facebook is also facing millions in fines for violating GDPR privacy rules about deceptive data collection policies.

–IANS

na/vd

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