France Fines Google and Facebook

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France recently fined Google and Facebook for hampering users’ ability to stop the companies tracking their online activity. According to BBC, French regulators have hit Google and Facebook with fines totalling 210m euros over the use of cookies. The French data privacy watchdog Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés, the CNIL, said both sites were making it difficult for internet users to refuse the online trackers. Consent for the use of cookies is key to the EU’s data-privacy regulation and a major priority for the CNIL. The social-media firms have three months to comply or face penalties of 100,000 euros for each day of delay.

A Google spokesperson said: “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.”

A spokesperson for Facebook’s parent company, Meta, said: “​​We are reviewing the authority’s decision and remain committed to working with relevant authorities. 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.”

Holding these tech giants accountable with privacy laws has been a unique challenge for the EU, but they are seeing it through. We should expect better from large corporations and European data privacy regulators are doing just that.