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france slaps Google & Amazon with millions of dollars fine

France’s data protection agency, CNIL, on Friday, fined Google and Amazon for dropping tracking cookies without consent. Google has been fined $120m and Amazon is fined $42m.

The regulator carried out investigations of the websites over the past year and found tracking cookies automatically dropping when a user visited the domains in breach of the country’s Data Protection Act.

It is the first penalty imposed by the French antitrust watchdog against the U.S. tech company in a number of clashes with French authorities, and as Google faces a growing number of investigations into its business practices on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Google’s case, the CNIL has found three consent violations related to dropping non- essential cookies. Amazon was found to have made two violations, per the CNIL penalty notice.

CNIL also found that the information about the cookies provided to site visitors was inadequate — noting that a banner displayed by Google did not provide specific information about the tracking cookies the Google.fr site had already dropped.

Under local French (and European) law, site users should have been clearly informed before the cookies were dropped and asked for their consent.

In Amazon’s case, its French site displayed a banner informing arriving visitors that they agreed to its use of cookies. CNIL said this did not comply with transparency or consent requirements -since it was not clear to users that the tech giant was using cookies for ad tracking. Nor were users given the opportunity to give consent.

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