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France imposes fines on Facebook Ireland and Google

Christian Fernsby |
On December 31, 2021, the France's data privacy watchdog CNIL fined the company Facebook Ireland Limited 60 million euros because the users of the social network residing in France can't refuse cookies as easily as to accept them.

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The CNIL has received many complaints reporting the way they can refuse cookies on the website

In April 2021, the CNIL conducted an online investigation on this website and found that, while it offers a button to immediately accept cookies, it does not offer an equivalent solution (button or other) enabling the user to refuse the deposit of cookies as easily.

Several clicks are required to refuse all cookies, as opposed to a single one to accept them. The CNIL also noted that the button allowing the user to refuse cookies is located at the bottom of the second window and is entitled "Accept cookies".

The restricted committee, the CNIL body responsible for issuing sanctions, noted that making the refusal mechanism more complex actually discourages users from refusing cookies and encourages them to opt for the ease of the consent button for cookies in the first window. It considered that such a process affects the freedom of consent of Internet users.

The restricted committee also considered that the information given by the company is not clear since, in order to refuse the deposit of cookies, Internet users must click on a button entitled "Accept cookies", displayed in the second window.

It considered that such a title necessarily generates confusion and that the user may have the feeling that it is not possible to refuse the deposit of cookies and that they have no way to manage it.

The restricted committee Fined Facebook Ireland Limited 60 million euros and made it public.

In addition to the administrative fine, the restricted committee also issued an injunction with periodic penalty payment requiring that the company provides Internet users located in France, within three months of the notification of the decision, with a means of refusing cookies that is as simple as the existing means of accepting them, in order to guarantee the freedom of their consent.

Otherwise, the company may pay a penalty of 100,000 euros per day of delay.

The restricted committee considered that the CNIL is also territorially competent pursuant to Article 3 of the French Data Protection Act because the use of cookies is carried out within the "framework of the activities" of the company Facebook France, which constitutes the "establishment" of the Facebook group on French territory.

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