France hits Google, Facebook with $235M fines over 'cookies'
According to media reports, Google and Facebook are facing a combined $235 million fine in France for cookie tracking.
French regulators fined Google and Facebook 210 million euros ($237 million) for their use of "cookies," the data used to track users online, officials announced Thursday.
The 150-million-euro fine imposed on Google was a record for France's National Commission for Information Technology and Freedom (CNIL), surpassing the company's previous cookie-related fine of 100 million euros in December 2020.
Facebook was fined 60 million euros.
The two platforms have three months to change their practices before France imposes fines of 100,000 euros per day, according to CNIL.
Following the ruling, Google told AFP that it would change its practices.
"In accordance with the expectations of internet users... we are committed to implementing new changes, as well as to working actively with CNIL in response to its decision," the US firm said in a statement.
Cookies are small data packets that are installed on a user's computer when they visit a website, allowing web browsers to save session information.
They are extremely valuable to Google and Facebook as methods of personalizing advertising, which is their primary source of revenue.
However, privacy advocates have long fought back, and a European Union law passed in 2018 imposed strict rules on internet companies, requiring them to obtain users' explicit consent before installing cookies on their computers.
Earlier, a Moscow court slammed Google with an unprecedented substantial fine in December for repeatedly failing to remove illegal content as part of Russian authorities’ attempts to pile pressure on foreign tech giants.
The fine amounted to 7.2 billion rubles ($98 million), the court's press service said on Telegram.