The French data protection body imposed a fine on Thursday, December 5, to the companies Google and Facebook with 150 and 60 million euros respectively for the use of “cookies”, the trackers that are used to direct advertising on the web.
For Google, the 150 million euros (about 166 million dollars) represents the largest penalty in France. Alphabet’s search engine had already been fined 100 million euros a few months ago for the same cause.
The National Commission of Informatics and Freedoms (CNIL) said that “it has been proven that the sites facebook.com, google.fr and youtube.com do not allow” Internet users to reject cookies “just as simply” as when they decide to accept them.
In other words, easy to accept, difficult to reject: that is equal to fines and penalties.
Now, both Facebook and Google have 90 days to solve this imbalance that the CNIL considers harmful for users.
The decision says that companies will have to pay 100,000 euros for each day they are late in applying the changes after the three-month deadline.
Google, in a statement sent to the French agency AFP, said it will change its cookie policies.
“We are committed to applying new changes, in the same way that we are going to actively work with the CNIL to address what it has decided based on the ePrivacy standards,” said Alphabet.
The cookie or “computer cookie” is a small file that detects the sites that Internet users enter. That information is then used to deliver targeted advertising.
Tracing is the focus of numerous complaints from organizations that have defended consumer rights for a long time, but big tech companies are constantly trying to evade them.
However, the complete rejection of computer tracking is very complicated, says the French CNIL.
“The Facebook, Google and YouTube websites offer a button that makes it easy to accept cookies immediately”, while to reject them “several clicks are necessary.”
The commission warned that since April 2020 it has sent notices to 90 websites to modify their devices.
Amazon was also fined in 2020, with 35 million euros for the same cause.