French watchdog fines Google 100 million euros and Amazon 35 million euros for breach of cookies

France’s CNIL data integrity watchdog said on Thursday that it had fined two Google devices a total of 100 million euros and an Amazon subsidiary with 35 million euros for advertising cookies.

The regulator said the fine was “for placing advertising cookies on users’ computers … without prior consent and without providing adequate information”.

A cookie is a small piece of data stored in a user’s computer browser that allows websites to identify users and remember their past activity.

CNIL found that the French websites for Google and Amazon did not seek the visitors’ prior consent before advertising cookies were saved on computers, it is said in a statement.

Google and Amazon also failed to provide clear information to Internet users about how the two companies intended to use such online trackers and how visitors to their French sites could refuse to use the cookies, the watchdog said.

Insufficient privacy and cookie information

Google was wrong to provide insufficient privacy information to users because they did not notify them of the cookies that had been placed and that the procedure for blocking them was still operational.

CNIL also said that Amazon had not provided clear or complete information about the cookies they placed on users’ computers until a redesign in September 2020.

Google also stopped placing cookies on users’ computers without consent in September, CNIL said, but added that it still does not provide a sufficient explanation for their use.

The regulator said “no matter which way users used to visit the website, they were either insufficiently informed or never informed about the fact that cookies were placed on their computer”.

The fine of 35 million euros (42 million dollars) is on the Amazon Europe Core subsidiary.

CNIL fined Google LLC EUR 60 million and Google Ireland Limited EUR 40 million.

The financial sanction against Google is the largest ever issued by CNIL, a spokesman for the watchdog said.

The previous record fine of 50 million euros was also directed at the American technology giant for violating EU data protection rules.

Google stands for its record, Amazon does not agree with the decision

In response to the announcement on Thursday, it said: “We are responsible for our register of providing advance information and clear controls, strong internal data management, secure infrastructure and, above all, useful products.”

“Today’s decisions under French e-privacy law overlook these efforts and do not take into account the fact that French rules and regulations are uncertain and constantly evolving,” Google said in a statement.

Amazon said separately that they did not agree with CNIL’s decision.

“We continually update our privacy practices to ensure that we meet the growing needs and expectations of customers and regulators and fully comply with all applicable laws in each country in which we operate,” it said.

( Jowharwith AFP and REUTERS)