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Google, Facebook fined 210 million euros for making it tough to reject website trackers

They do not provide an equivalent solution (button or other) enabling the internet user to easily refuse the deposit of these cookies

Updated:Fri, January 07, 2022 1:38pm

By Danny Dcruze

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France's data privacy agency CNIL has fined two of the biggest tech giants, Google and Facebook in the world for making it tough to turn off the cookies function on their respective platforms. CNIL has fined both Alphabet and Meta for 150 million euros and 60 million euros respectively under their Data Protection Act.

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In a detailed statement by the French agency, it was announced that the websites facebook.com, google.fr and youtube.com offer a button allowing the user to immediately accept cookies. However, they do not provide an equivalent solution (button or other) enabling the internet user to easily refuse the deposit of these cookies. The statement noted that it took several clicks to refuse all cookies, against a single one to accept them.

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The committee has claimed that this relative ease in accepting cookies and the multi-step approach to reject them hinders the freedom of consent. The agency noted that 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.

Apart from the fines, Google and Facebook have been asked to provide a way to reject the cookies, as easily as they can be accepted. The govt agency believes this impacts the user's freedom of consent and has also provided a time limit of three months for the action to complete. If they fail to do so, the companies will have to pay a penalty of 100,000 euros per day of delay.

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What are cookies?

A cookie is a small piece of text sent to your browser by a website you visit. It helps the site remember information about your visit. In future interactions, the site will provide data according to that specific user's preference.

Cookies can be used to remember your preferred language, to make the ads seem more relevant, to count the number of visitors on a particular webpage. It also aids online brands in signing up users for their services.

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