France imposes 135 mn euros in fines on Google, Amazon

WION Web Team
Paris, France Published: Dec 10, 2020, 01:26 PM(IST)

Google and Amazon Photograph:( WION )

Story highlights

The country's CNIL data privacy regulator said Thursday the fines were levied "for having placed advertising cookies on the computers of users -- without obtaining prior consent and without providing adequate information."

France has fined two Google units a total of 100 million euros and an Amazon subsidiary 35 million euros over advertising cookies.

The country's CNIL data privacy regulator said Thursday the fines were levied "for having placed advertising cookies on the computers of users -- without obtaining prior consent and without providing adequate information."

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

Google's fine is one of the biggest ever for the French data protection authority.

The French authority has imposed the fine under the e-Privacy Directive, rather than the EU's flagship data protection law the General Data Protection Regulation, which is why it is able to take direct action against Amazon and Google, even though their EU bases are in Luxembourg and Ireland respectively.

The €100 million penalty for Google is the CNIL's second for the search engine giant in as many years. The watchdog fined Google €50 million for a lack of transparency, providing inadequate information to users and a lack of valid consent to target ads in 2019. In that case, CNIL was able to use the GDPR because Google had not fully legally established in Dublin at that point.

The CNIL said when a user visited the website google.fr, several cookies used for advertising purposes were automatically placed on his or her computer, without any action required on the user's part.

It said a similar thing happened when visiting one page on the amazon.fr website.

CNIL said this type of cookie "can only be placed after the user has expressed his or her consent" and thus violated regulations on receiving prior consent.

It faulted Google for providing insufficient privacy information for users as it did not let them know about the cookies which had been placed and that the procedure to block them still left one operational. 

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

(with inputs)

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