France fines Microsoft €60 million over advertising cookies
France’s privacy watchdog, the National Commission for Technology and Freedoms (CNIL) has fined US tech giant Microsoft €60 million for foisting advertising cookies on users.
The watchdog said Microsoft’s search engine Bing had not set up a system allowing users to deny cookies as easily as accepting them.
The regulator added that its investigations found that “when users visited the site, cookies were deposited on their terminal without their consent, while these cookies were used, among others, for advertising purposes.”
It also “observed that there was no button allowing to refuse the deposit of cookies as easily as accepting it”.
According to the CNIL, the fine was justified in part because of the profits Microsoft would have made from the advertising profits indirectly generated from the data collected via cookies.
The search engine offered a single click button for the user to immediately accept all cookies, but two clicks were necessary to deny them, CNIL said.
Microsoft has been given three months to fix the issue, with a potential further penalty of €60,000 per day overdue.
The fine, which was the largest fine imposed in 2022, was issued to Microsoft Ireland, where it has its European base.
Microsoft said in a statement that it had “introduced key changes to our cookie practices even before this investigation started”.
“We continue to respectfully be concerned with the CNIL’s position on advertising fraud,” it said, adding that it believes the French watchdog’s “position will harm French individuals and businesses.”
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