Google, Facebook fined $169 mn for making it hard for cookies

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Google, Facebook fined $169 mn for making it hard for cookies

A 3 D printed Facebook logo Meta is seen in the front of the displayed Google logo in this illustration taken on November 2, 2021. REUTERS Dado Ruvic Illustration

PARIS, Jan 6, Reuters -- France's data privacy watchdog CNIL said on Thursday it had fined Alphabet's Google GOOGL.O a record 150 million euros $169 million for making it hard for internet users to refuse online trackers, known as cookies.

The CNIL said that Meta Platforms' Facebook FB.O was fined 60 million euros for the same reason.

Internet users' prior consent for the use of cookies is a key pillar of the European Union's data privacy regulation and a top priority for the CNIL.

The watchdog said that the websites of Facebook, google.fr and youtube.com didn't allow the refusal of cookies and that they weren't able to use their video-streaming platform as a basis for rejecting cookies.

The CNIL said the two companies had three months to comply with its orders or face an extra penalty of 100,000 euros per day of delay.

In order to guarantee their consent, Google and Facebook must provide French internet users simpler tools for refusing cookies.

The CNIL said that there was no equivalent to refuse cookies as easily, while Google and Facebook provided a virtual button to allow immediate acceptance of cookies.

People trust us to respect their right to privacy and keep them safe. A Google spokeswoman said that we understand our responsibility to protect that trust and that we are committed to further changes and active work with the CNIL in light of this decision.

In 2020, CNIL's previous record fine targeted Google and was up to 100 million euros.

The CNIL found that Google's French websites didn't seek prior consent of visitors before advertising cookies were saved on computers and didn't provide clear information about how it intended to make use of them.

Kiefer said the issues have been resolved since then.

In 2020, the CNIL strengthened consent rights over Ad Trackers, saying websites operating in France should keep a register of internet users refusing to accept cookies for at least six months.

It said internet users should be able to revisit any initial agreement regarding cookies via a web link or icon that should be visible on all website pages.