According to a Politico article published on Wednesday, Google and Facebook are facing significant fines in France for not making it easier for French users to refuse cookie-tracking technology. According to documents obtained by the outlet, the French data privacy regulator, the Commission Nationale de l’informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), plans to punish Google 150 million euros and Facebook 60 million euros for violating French data privacy standards.
According to the document, if both companies do not remedy the concerns within three months of the decision being made, they would be fined additional 100,000 euros every day. This affects google.fr, youtube.fr, and all of Facebook’s platforms in France, according to Politico.
Meta is analyzing the decision, according to a spokeswoman for ZDNet, and “remains committed to engaging with necessary authorities.”
“We continue to build and improve our cookie consent controls to give people more control over their data, including a new settings menu on Facebook and Instagram where people can revisit and alter their preferences at any time,” the spokesman added.
Requests for comment from Google were not returned. CNIL penalized Google 100 million euros in December 2020 for infringing Article 82 of the French Data Protection Act, which prohibits the placement of cookies without the consent of the user. In March 2020, the CNIL conducted an investigation into google.fr and discovered that when users visited this website, cookies “were automatically deposited on his or her computer, without any activity on his or her part.” Several of these cookies were utilized for advertising reasons, according to CNIL, and Google made “substantial profits” from the activity.
The CNIL also discovered that when users visited google.fr, a banner at the bottom of the page provided no information about the cookies that had previously been installed. CNIL also observed that even if a user turned off ad personalization on Google, one of the advertising cookies remained on their computer and continued to read data.
In September 2020, Google stopped automatically placing advertising cookies on google.fr, but the CNIL criticized the new information banner for failing to “allow users living in France to understand the purposes for which the cookies are used and does not let them know that they can refuse these cookies.” The CNIL threatened a daily fine of 100,000 euros.
Because of the GDPR, Facebook modified its cookie consent controls in September 2021, creating a settings menu on Facebook and Instagram where Europeans can manage their cookie consent preferences.
Google was fined over 8 billion euros by European regulators for a number of alleged anticompetitive actions, and the company lost an appeal for one of the 2.42 billion euro fines in September. In September, WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, was fined 225 million euros for not being honest about how it shared data with its parent firm. For breaking GDPR privacy laws about false data collecting policies, Facebook is facing millions in fines.