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France fines Google, Facebook over cookies policies

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France fines Google, Facebook over cookies policies
The French CNIL on Thursday fined Google more than $169 million after finding it failed to provide users a way to reject cookies as easily as they accept them. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 6 (UPI) -- French regulators on Thursday fined Google and Facebook and ordered them to make it as easy for users to reject cookies on their platform as it is to accept them.

The National Commission for Informatics and Freedoms, CNIL, fined Google more than $169 million and Facebook more than $67 million for violating the French Data Protection Act.

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The commission found that the tech companies offer a button allowing the user to immediately accept cookies but "do not provide an equivalent solution (button or other)" to allow users to reject cookies.

"Several clicks are required to refuse all cookies, against a single one to accept them," the CNIL said. "The restricted committee considered that this process affects the freedom of consent: since, on the Internet, the user expects to be able to quickly consult a website, the fact that they cannot refuse the cookies as easily as they can accept them influences their choice in favor of consent."

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Along with the fines, the CNIL ordered Facebook and Google to provide French users with " a means of refusing cookies as simple as the existing means of accepting them."

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If the companies fail to provide such an option the committee said the companies will be fined about $113,000 per day.

In separate statements to Ars Technica, neither company provided details about their plans to comply with the order.

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"People trust us to respect their right to privacy and keep them safe," a Google representative said. "We understand our responsibility to protect that trust and are committing to further changes and active work with the CNIL in light of this decision under the ePrivacy Directive."

A representative for Facebook's parent company, Meta, said the company was "reviewing the authority's decision" and remains "committed to working with relevant authorities."

"Our cookie consent controls provide people with greater control over their data, including a new settings menu on Facebook and Instagram where people can revisit and manage their decisions at any time, and we continue to develop and improve these controls," the company said.

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