French authorities have slapped Google with a record €150 million (around $170 million) fine after failing to make it easy enough for users to reject cookies when using its search engine.
The move marks the latest blow against the tech giant in Europe, which has been repeatedly fined for breaches of EU competition law, and faces investigations in different jurisdictions throughout the continent.
Cookies are small data files that store information about your online activity. These files are used by companies like Google to remember you, keep you logged in between sessions, and record your preferences.
However, under Article 82 of the French Data Protection Act, users have the right to opt out from cooking-tracking while online, and companies have a responsibility to allow them to do so easily.
In a statement published on Thursday, French data protection authority CNIL said Google’s search engine and its subsidiary YouTube had not made it simple enough for French users to reject cookies, relative to how easy it was to accept them.
In a second statement, CNIL revealed it had also fined Facebook’s holding company Meta €60 million (or around $68 million) for the same offense.
The data watchdog noted that both firms made it easy to opt into cookie tracking with a single click of a button — but it’s more complicated to opt out of all tracking.
Both companies now have three months to alter the way cookies operate on their platforms, or risk fines of €100,000 (or $113,000) a day.
“People trust us to respect their right to privacy and keep them safe,” a Google spokesperson told Politico. “We understand our responsibility to protect that trust and are committing to further changes and active work with the CNIL in light of this decision.”
A Meta spokesperson told Politico the company was “reviewing the authority’s decision,” adding: “Our cookie consent controls provide people with greater control over their data, including a new settings menu on Facebook and Instagram where people can revisit and manage their decisions at any time, and we continue to develop and improve these controls.”
The article originally published on Business Insider.