French regulator fines Google and Facebook a combined $238 million over cookies

France’s data regulator CNIL has fined Google €150 million ($170 million) and Meta/Facebook €60 million ($68 million) for violating EU privacy rules. Both companies failed to allow French users to easily reject cookie tracking technology as required by EU privacy rules, according to CNIL’s news release.  

The fines were specifically levied against Google’s US and Irish operations (€90 million and €60 million respectively) and against Facebook’s Irish arm. Both companies face daily fines of €100,000 if they don’t change their practices within three months of CNIL’s official decision. 

In addition to the fines, the restricted committee ordered the companies to provide Internet users located in France with a means of refusing cookies as simple as the existing means of accepting them, in order to guarantee their freedom of consent, within three months. If they fail to do so, the companies will have to pay a penalty of 100,000 euros per day of delay.

​​We are reviewing the authority’s decision and remain committed to working with relevant authorities,” a Meta spokesperson told Politico. “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.”

“People trust us to respect their right to privacy and keep them safe. 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 Google spokesperson said in a statement.

CNIL said it has issued 100 orders and sanctions related to non-compliance with cookie legislation since it went into force on March 31, 2021. The regulator previously fined Google €100 million for cookie violations under European e-Privacy rules and €50 million for GDPR violations. 

Google is still fighting the €100 million fine before France’s highest court. It’s expected to fight the latest sanction as well, according Politico. At the same time, the fines against Google and Meta’s Irish operations point to major tension between the EU and Ireland. Europe sees Ireland’s actions as too friendly toward tech giants headquartered there, and hostile toward user privacy. 

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