France’s data protection watchdog, The CNIL, which is responsible for issuing sanctions in France, said that following an investigation of the opt-out practices of facebook.com, google.fr and youtube.com are offering a button allowing users to immediately accept cookies, but do not provide an equivalent button or options that enable the Internet user to easily refuse the deposit of these cookies into their browser.
The major issue, according to the CNIL, is that several clicks are required to refuse all cookies, compared with just one to accept them.
"When you accept cookies, it's done in just one click," said Karin Kiefer, CNIL's head of data protection and sanctions, told Reuters. "Rejecting cookies should be as easy as accepting them."
The committee suggests this process affects the freedom of consent. The user expects that the internet should enable them to quickly consult a website. The fact that they cannot refuse the cookies as easily as they can accept them influences their choice of consent. This constitutes an infringement of Article 82 of the French Data Protection Act, according to the CNIL.
Google’s fine amounted to 150 million euros -- about $170 million -- and Facebook’s fine amounted to 60 million euros, about $68 million.
Both, along with YouTube, were fined for breaching French law, following investigations of how they present tracking choices to users.
The companies had three months to comply with the CNIL’s orders or face an extra penalty payment of 100,000 euros per day.
This is not the first time Google has been fined in France. The company was fined 100 million euros in 2020. At the time, per the report, Google’s French websites didn't seek prior consent from visitors before advertising cookies were saved on computers and failed to provide clear information about how it intended to make use of them.