French watchdog fines Google and Amazon over their policies on cookies

French watchdog fines Google and Amazon over their policies on cookies

France’s online data privacy watchdog handed out fines worth €100 million and €35 million to Google and Amazon on Thursday for allegedly breaching rules on cookies.

The National Commission for Informatics and Liberties (CNIL) said both American tech companies automatically place cookies — advertising trackers — on users’ computers without asking for consent.

Both Google and Amazon were also found to fail to provide any clear information about its cookies policy, how they would be used or how to decline them.

Finally, a “partial failure of the “opposition” mechanism” was also detected on Google with cookies still active even after users had declined them.

The CNIL argued it has the authority to hand out such fines even though the two multinationals’ European headquarters are elsewhere: Ireland for Google and Luxembourg for Amazon. That, it said, is because the issue impacts consumers residing in France and because the use of cookies was carried out by the French entity of both companies.

Amazon said in a statement that it disagrees with CNIL’s decision.

“Protecting the privacy of our customers has always been a top priority for Amazon. We continuously update our privacy practices to ensure that we meet the evolving needs and expectations of customers and regulators and fully comply with all applicable laws in every country in which we operate,” it said.

A Google spokesperson told Cuffnews: “We stand by our record of providing upfront information and clear controls, strong internal data governance, secure infrastructure, and above all, helpful products.

“Today’s decision under French ePrivacy laws overlooks these efforts and doesn’t account for the fact that French rules and regulatory guidance are uncertain and constantly evolving.

“We will continue to engage with the CNIL as we make ongoing improvements to better understand its concerns.”