France fines Microsoft 60 million euros for forcing advertising cookies on users

The French privacy watchdog announced on Thursday that it had fined Microsoft, a major US technology company, 60 million euros ($64 million) for forcing advertising cookies on users.

According to the National Commission for Technology and Freedoms (CNIL), Microsoft’s search engine Bing lacks a system that allows users to reject cookies as easily as they accept them.

The French regulator said that after investigations it found that “when users visited this site, cookies were deposited on their terminals without their consent, while these cookies were used, among others, for advertising purposes.”

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It also “observed that there was no button allowing it to refuse the deposit of cookies as easily as accepting it.”

The CNIL said the fine was justified in part because of the advertising profits the company indirectly generated from the data collected via cookies—tiny data files that track online browsing.

Bing offered a button for the user to immediately accept all cookies, but two clicks were needed to refuse them, it said.

The company has been given three months to rectify the issue, with a potential further penalty of 60,000 euros per day overdue.

The fine was issued to Microsoft Ireland, where the company has its European base.

In a statement, Microsoft said 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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