France announced on Thursday that it has imposed fines of 150 million euros (170 million dollars) on Google and 60 million euros (75 million dollars) on Facebook for the procedures to reject “cookies” on its pages, which they are more complex than those that lead to its acceptance.
The CNIL, the French body in charge of supervising digital activity, justified in two statements the amount of these sanctions for the number of people affected and for the “considerable benefits” that these American internet giants obtain with the advertising revenues that they precisely receive from indirectly thanks to these “cookies”.
In the case of Google, it is actually a double fine, one of 90 million euros to the parent company and another of 60 million to the European subsidiary, domiciled in Ireland.
At its origin are several complaints received by the National Commission for Information Technology and Freedoms (CNIL), which last June carried out an online control in which it found practices that infringe “the freedom of consent of Internet users.”
The reason is that “it is not as easy to reject ‘cookies’ as to accept them”.
Specifically, both on Google’s pages and on those of its YouTube video service there is a button that allows you to give them the go-ahead immediately.
However, there is no equivalent solution to allowing visitors to say no. In fact, it takes several clicks to get it done.
For the CNIL, this greater complexity amounts to “discouraging users from rejecting ‘cookies’ and encouraging them to favor the ease of the ‘I accept’ button”.
In February of last year, this supervisory body had already warned Google about this issue and had repeated that “it has to be as easy to reject ‘cookies’ as to accept them.”
The Internet search engine and its video service have three months to correct the situation in such a way as to guarantee the freedom of consent of the Internet user. Otherwise, they are exposed to an additional fine of 100,000 euros for each day of delay.
The sanction for Facebook’s Irish subsidiary is based on the same kinds of reasons: it takes several clicks to reject “cookies” when just one click is enough to accept them.
Furthermore, the button to reject them is not only in the lower part of the second window to open, but it also appears under the misleading title of “Accept ‘cookies'”.
“This name necessarily generates confusion and the user may have the impression that it is not possible to reject ‘cookies’ and that they do not have ways to control them,” according to the CNIL.
The control body also gives Facebook three months to solve it because, if not, it will also have to pay 100,000 euros for each day of delay.