French Data Protection Agency Fines Amazon, Google Over Advertising Cookies

French administrative regulatory body Commission Nationale Informatique & Libertés or CNIL has fined technology majors Amazon and Google for placing advertising cookies on users’ computers, without prior consent and without providing adequate information.

Amazon Europe Core, affiliated to Amazon Inc., is fined 35 million euros for placing advertising cookies from the page amazon.fr. Further, Google LLC has to pay 60 million euros and Google Ireland Ltd. 40 million euros for placing cookies on the computers of users of the search engine google.fr.

Both Amazon and Google are also ordered to adequately inform individuals within three months after the notification of the decision. Otherwise, the companies must pay a penalty payment of 100, 000 euros for each day of delay.

The CNIL’s restricted committee, which is responsible for imposing sanctions, noticed two breaches of Article 82 of the French Data Protection Act by Amazon, and three breaches by Google.

Regarding Amazon, CNIL said it conducted several investigations, from December 12, 2019 to May 19, 2020, including online investigations, on the website amazon.fr.

The agency also conducted an online investigation on the website google.fr on March 16, 2020.

CNIL found that when a user visited the respective websites of both companies, a large number of cookies used for advertising purposes were automatically placed on his or her computer, without any action required on his or her part.

The CNIL committee considered that the deposit of cookies at the same time as arriving on the site was a practice which, by its nature, was incompatible with a prior consent. Also, the information provided was neither clear, nor complete.

The companies have now stopped automatically placing advertising cookies since an update that occurred in September 2020.

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