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Google and Facebook hit with massive fines over cookie tracking practices

France has hit Google and Facebook with a combined €210 million (about £175 million) worth of fines for questionable cookie tracking consent practices.

The country’s data protection watchdog, CNIL, slapped Google with a €150 million (£125 million) fine and Facebook with a €60 million (£50 million) fine following an investigation into how the two internet giants present cookie tracking choices to their users.

It was found that while both companies presented a button to accept all tracking requests, neither presented a similarly intuitive option to reject all non-essential cookies.

“Several clicks are required to refuse all cookies,” notes the CNIL press release of the Google, YouTube, and Facebook websites. With Facebook in particular, it’s noted that “the button allowing the user to refuse cookies is located at the bottom of the second window and is entitled “Accept cookies”.

In addition to the sizeable fines, the watchdog has also issued the companies an “injunction with periodic penalty payment” that requires them to provide French users with “a means of refusing cookies that is as simple as the existing means of accepting them”.

If this alternative isn’t provided within three months, Google and Facebook may face a penalty of €100,000 euros per day until they do.

As TechCrunch points out, this isn’t the first time that France’s regulator has taken such action. Back in December 2020, it slapped Google and Amazon with a combined €135 million worth of fines for dropping tracking cookies without consent.

Back in 2013 we reported on CNIL issuing an ultimatum to Google over its privacy practices.

While the EU has a central enforcer (the DPC) that’s supposed to deal with such matters, it seems these regional efforts are proving more effective in tackling big tech overreach.

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