France is imposing penalties on Google and Facebook

Status: 01/06/2022 2:19 p.m.

France’s data protection authority has fined Google and Facebook millions of euros. She accuses the internet giants of a lack of respect for the privacy of users.

The French data protection authority (Cnil) criticized the fact that users on the websites of Google and Facebook cannot refuse so-called cookies as easily as they accept. Two Google subsidiaries are therefore supposed to pay a fine of 150 million euros together, and on Facebook it is 60 million euros.

Cookies are small data sets that can be stored on the device when you visit a website. For example, they contain information about what someone has searched for on Google in order to subsequently enable targeted advertising on the Facebook network.

What are cookies?

Cookies are small text files that are stored in the user’s web browser when visiting a website. During a later visit, the website provider can retrieve the cookies and thus “recognize” the user’s browser and its settings.

This is intended to make navigation on the Internet easier, but it also provides information about users’ surfing behavior. Cookies are therefore extremely interesting for advertising. They are used, for example, to present consumers with individual advertising, to obtain information about how long a user has been on the website – or which other websites they visit.

Cookies can be deleted at any time in the data protection settings of the web browser.

Three months to correct defects

The French authority complained that cookies could be accepted with just one click on, and, but several clicks were necessary to reject them. On Facebook, you even have to click on a field that says “accept cookies” and is therefore misleading to switch off. This affects the freedom of consent and violates French law.

The two groups now have three months to adapt their platforms in accordance with French law. For each day of delay, 100,000 euros would be due. It is the highest penalty that the French data protection authority has ever imposed.

A spokeswoman for the Facebook parent company Meta said they were examining the authority’s decision. The own cookie settings would give people more control over their data. These attitudes will be further developed and improved. Google announced that it is aware of its responsibility to people’s trust and is committed to further changes.

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