French watchdog fines Google €100m

Google has been fined €100 million by a French regulatory body for putting advertising cookies on users’ computers without consent.

The sanctions came as the Commission Nationale de l'informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) fined Amazon €35 million for the same reason.

The CNIL conducted an online investigation earlier this year which found that when a user visited the website, cookies were automatically placed on the user’s computer, without any action required, with several of the cookies being used for advertising purposes.

The restricted committee imposed a financial penalty of €60 million euros on Google and another one of €40 million euros on Google Ireland.

The data regulatory body said that the investigation identified three breaches of the French
Data Protection Act: deposit of cookies without obtaining the prior constent of the user, lack of information provided to the users of the search engine google.fr and partial failure of the opposition mechanism, which means when a user deactived the ad personalisation on the google search one of the advertising cookies was still stored on the user’s computer.

Google has stopped automatically placing advertising cookies when a user arrives on the page google.fr, since an update that occurred in September 2020.

But the CNIL noticed that the new information banner set up by the companies when a user arrives on the page google.fr still does not allow the 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.

Because of this, in addition to the financial penalties, the regulatory body also ordered the companies to adequately inform individuals, in accordance with the French Data Protection Act, within three months after the notification of the decision.

If Google does not meet these demands, it will pay a penalty payment of €100 000 euros for each day of delay.

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