On Thursday, French regulators  fined Google and Facebook a total of more than €200 million. The fine`s reason was they have not made it as easy for people to opt out of online tracking as it is for them to accept it.

The investigations found that while the US online giants gave French users a single button to immediately accept cookies, there wasn’t an equally simple way for them to decline because “several clicks are required to refuse all cookies”, said the CNIL data privacy watchdog.

According to CNIL, visitors to Facebook, Google’s French homepage, and YouTube were being nudged to say yes. It means they weren’t freely giving their consent and that’s equal to violation of French data protection rules.

The French watchdog fined Google with a €150 million penalty and Facebook with a €60 million fine. The companies were also threatened by daily penalties of €100,000 if they don’t make it simpler for users in France to refuse cookies within three months.

Facebook, already renamed Meta, said it’s reviewing the decision and is committed to working with authorities. The company said.

“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.”

Google added:

“People trust us to respect their right to privacy and keep them safe. 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”.

Google, Facebook and regulators in Europe and the U.S. work on phasing out more egregious data collection practices. That means The French penalty underscores a broader shift in the digital ad industry

Google has also announced plans to phase out so-called third-party cookies used by advertisers from its Chrome browsers, though it will still be able to track users of its own services.

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