The Cnil imposes heavy fines on Google and Facebook for their “cookies”

Google receives a fine of 150 million euros and Facebook one of 60 million euros. The two groups do not allow Internet users to easily refuse the deposit of cookies.

After the pedagogy then the warnings, the Cnil decided to crack down. On Thursday, the National Commission for Computing and Freedoms announced that it would impose significant sanctions on Google and Facebook. The first is fined 150 million euros, the heaviest sanction ever pronounced by the French policeman for personal data. Facebook will have to pay 60 million euros. The two groups will have three months to comply with the rules of the Cnil, under penalty of a penalty of 100,000 euros per day of delay. The information was revealed Wednesday evening by Politico Europe.

The object of the wrath of the commission? Facebook like Google do not allow their users to simply refuse the deposit of cookies. These small computer programs are central to the online advertising industry. They collect information about the Internet user, such as his browsing history, which is used to send him targeted advertising. However, since the European regulation on personal data (GDPR) of 2018, Internet users must be informed about the use of these cookies and decide in a “free and enlightenedif they give their consent to this profiling.

Simplify the refusal of cookies

But many sites have turned refusing cookies into an obstacle course. Endless menus to scroll down, options to uncheck, multiple steps to validate… while the acceptance of cookies is done with a click on a big button “Accept all“.

To put an end to these abuses, the Cnil published directives in October 2020 so that it is as simple to accept as to refuse cookies, in the name of “freedom of consent“. Site publishers had until April 1, 2021 to comply. Between May and July, around sixty companies were given formal notice for not having complied with these rules. Most of them fell into line after this warning shot.

Google and Facebook are sanctioned because, despite preliminary alerts, the two groups still do not allow you to simply refuse the deposit of cookies.

In its decision, the CNIL does not mince its words against Google. The group has “chose not to offer its users the ability to easily refuse cookies“, what “reveals a marked desire not to modify its practices“so as not to impact”the considerable profits derived by the company, through the advertising revenue indirectly generated by the data collected by these cookies.»

Indeed, many studies have shown that the presence of a button “Refuse all cookies» caused the consent rate of Internet users to drop. “These elements therefore confirm the undeniable financial advantage derived from the breach committed by Google“, the most important player in online advertising alongside Facebook, stings the Cnil.

A previous disputed fine

Google and the Cnil have been in litigation since the American group contested a first fine of 100 million euros. The latter, pronounced at the end of 2020, sanctioned the fact that Google placed advertising cookies even before the Internet user made a decision. The file will be examined on January 12 at the Council of State. Amazon had received a fine of 35 million euros for the same breaches, and settled it.

Facebook and Google have four months to appeal the CNIL sanctions. During the procedure, the two groups questioned the legitimacy of the French regulator. According to them, the issue of cookies falls under the GDPR, the proper application of which is supervised by the Irish regulator – criticized for its slowness and weak penalties. The Cnil disputes this interpretation and says it relies on the ePrivacy directive, which allows national authorities to act.

Google now seems more conciliatory and says it “undertakes to implement changes as well as to work actively with the CNIL within the framework of ePrivacy“. Facebook, on the other hand, says “study the decision“.

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