The CNIL, France’s privacy guardian, fined Google and Facebook 150 and 60 million euros, respectively, for their practices regarding “cookies,” these digital tracers used in particular for targeted advertising.
The fine imposed on Google is a record in all categories for the Commission Informatique et Libertés (Cnil), surpassing a previous fine of 100 million euros imposed on Google in December 2020, also on the subject of cookies.
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“The Cnil noted that the sites facebook.com, google.fr, and youtube.com do not allow” refusing cookies “as simply” as accepting them, she said.
The two platforms have three months to comply, after which “each company will have to pay a fine of 100,000 euros per day of delay,” she added.
Cookies are small computer files that websites place on their visitors’ computers for technical or targeted advertising purposes.
They specifically allow agencies to track the user’s browsing in order to send them personalized advertising relevant to their areas of interest. They are frequently chastised for the invasions of privacy they may cause.
In a reaction sent to AFP, Google announced a change in its practices, following the Cnil’s decision. “In accordance with the expectations of Internet users, (…) we are committed to implementing new changes, as well as to working actively with the CNIL in response to its decision, within the framework of the directive (European editor’s note) ePrivacy,” assured the American giant.
Meta, Facebook’s parent company said it was evaluating the decision of the CNIL, and that it would continue to work with the regulatory authorities on these subjects. “We are continuing to develop and improve the tools for controlling cookies for Internet users.”
Since the implementation of the European Regulation on Personal Data (RFPD) in 2018, websites have been required to follow stricter rules in order to obtain the consent of Internet users before placing cookies.
The Cnil had given the editors of the sites until April 2021 to adapt to this hardening and warned that it would begin sanctioning after this deadline.
Le Figaro was the first to pay the price for this increased rigour in July, when it was fined 50,000 euros for cookies placed by the newspaper’s partners “without action” on the part of the Internet user or “despite his refusal.”
The CNIL recently stated that since the end of its tolerance period, it had sent approximately 90 formal notices to website editors.
In the case of Google and Facebook, the CNIL questions the disparity between the ease with which Internet users accept cookies and the difficulty in refusing them.
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“The facebook.com, google.fr and youtube.com websites offer a button to immediately accept cookies. several clicks are necessary to refuse all cookies”, she denounced. This process “undermines the freedom of consent”, she stressed.
To add to the confusion, Facebook’s new button for refusing trackers is even labelled “Accept cookies,” she pointed out.
In general, the CNIL recommends that the “Refuse all” button on consent collection banners be as easy to access as the “Accept All” button.