The French data privacy commission, Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL) fined Google a total sum of 100 million euros (£91m) in France for breaking the country’s rules on online advertising trackers known as cookies.

US retail giant Amazon was also fined 35 million euros for breaking the rules, however, the fine on Google is the largest one ever imposed by the commission. 

Google and Amazon’s French servers failed to seek user permission before saving cookies on devices, said the CNIL. Furthermore, Google and Amazon also failed to provide clear information about the terms of use and privacy policy regarding cookies, in addition to the absence of a clear option to refuse the cookies. 

The tech companies have been given a period of three months to change banners and information displayed on their website. Failure to comply will result in a further fine of 100,000 euros per day until the changes are made.

“We stand by our record of providing upfront information and clear controls, strong internal data governance, secure infrastructure, and above all, helpful products,” read an official statement from Google, “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,”

Similarly, Amazon expressed disagreement with the CNIL decision, “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 in a statement.

In a separate case in the UK, Google is being probed by a regulator over its plans to change the way the Chrome browser handles cookies.

Google wants to stop advertisers using cookies to track users as they move around the web from one site to another when using Chrome, in a bid to improve privacy. It plans to introduce an alternative system known as the Privacy Sandbox that will only provide anonymised feedback.

A group of about a dozen small tech companies and publishers has lodged a complaint with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) claiming this would damage their businesses.

The CMA is expected to announce whether it will intervene over the coming weeks.


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