French regulator imposes $238 million on Google and Facebook together for cookies

French data regulator CNIL has fined Google €150 million ($170 million) and Meta/Facebook €60 million ($68 million) for violating EU privacy rules. Both companies did not allow French users to easily opt-out of the cookie tracking technology, as required by EU privacy rules, according to the CNIL press release.

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

In addition to the fines, the select committee ordered the companies to provide Internet users based in France within three months with a means of refusing cookies, as simple as the existing means of accepting them, in order to guarantee their freedom of consent. If they fail to do so, the companies will have to pay a fine of 100,000 euros per day of delay.

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

“People trust that we respect and protect their right to privacy. We understand our responsibility to protect that trust and commit to further changes and active cooperation with the CNIL in light of this decision under the ePrivacy Directive,” a Google spokesperson said. in a statement.

CNIL said it has issued 100 injunctions and sanctions related to non-compliance with the cookie law since it came into effect on March 31, 2021. The regulator previously fined Google €100 million for cookie violations under European e-Privacy rules and €50 million for GDPR violations.

Google is still challenging the €100 million fine in France’s highest court. It is also expected to fight the final sanction, according to Politico. At the same time, the fines against Google and Meta’s Irish operations point to major tensions between the EU and Ireland. Europe sees Ireland’s actions as too friendly to tech giants headquartered there, and hostile to user privacy.

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