French regulator fines Google and Facebook combined $238 million for cookies

French data regulator CNIL has fined Google 150 million euros ($170 million) and Meta/Facebook 60 million euros ($68 million) for violating EU privacy rules. The two companies failed to allow French users to easily refuse cookie tracking technology as required by EU privacy rules, according to a CNIL news release.

The fines were specifically imposed on Google’s US and Irish operations (€90 million and €60 million, respectively) and against Facebook’s Irish arm. Both companies face daily fines of 100,000 euros if they do not change their practices within three months of the CNIL’s official decision.

In addition to the fines, the restrictive commission ordered the companies to provide Internet users located in France with a means to refuse cookies as simple as the current means to accept them, in order to guarantee their freedom to consent, within three months. If they fail to do so, companies will have to pay a fine of €100,000 for each day of delay.

“We are reviewing the authority’s decision and remain committed to working with the relevant authorities,” a Meta spokesperson said. Politico. “Cookie consent controls give people greater control over their data, including a new settings menu on Facebook and Instagram where people can reconsider and manage their decisions at any time, and we continue to develop and improve these controls.”

A Google spokesperson said, “People trust us to respect their right to privacy and maintain their safety. We understand our responsibility to protect that trust and are committed to making further changes and working actively with CNIL in light of this decision under the Electronic Privacy Directive.”

CNIL said it has issued 100 orders and penalties related to non-compliance with the cookie legislation since it came into effect on March 31, 2021. The regulator had previously fined Google €100 million for cookie violations under European online privacy rules and €50 million Euros for GDPR violations.

Google is still fighting a €100 million fine in France’s highest court. She is also expected to resist the latest punishment, according to the British newspaper The Guardian Politico. At the same time, fines for Google’s Irish operations and Meta indicate significant tension between the European Union and Ireland. Europe sees Ireland’s actions as too friendly towards the tech giants stationed there, and hostile to user privacy.

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