Tech giants Google and Facebook are facing fines of tens of millions of euros for requiring users to click more often to remove their cookies than to accept them, the French data protection authority Cnil said on Thursday.
“Several clicks are required to refuse all cookies, against a single one to accept them,” said Cnil.
Cnil noted that cookies could be accepted with just one click on the google.fr, facebook.com, and youtube.com websites, while several clicks were needed to remove them, this affected consent provisions under French law, it said.
“The restricted committee considered that this process affects the freedom of consent. Since, on the internet, the user expects to be able to quickly consult a website, the fact that they cannot refuse the cookies as easily as they can accept them influences their choice in favour of consent. This constitutes an infringement of Article 82 of the French Data Protection Act.”
Two Google subsidiaries have been hit with fines of €150 million ($170 million), while Facebook has to pay € 60 million
The operators have three months to amend their practices, with an additional €100,000 imposed for each day of delay.
A spokeswoman for Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said the company would look into the ruling.
She noted that personal settings gave users greater control over their data and added that the settings would be improved.
Google said it was aware of its responsibilities and committed itself to changes.
Cookies are small data blocks saved on a device when a user browses a website. They facilitate navigation through the website, but personal information may become available to advertisers when they are installed.