France Fines Microsoft For Privacy Breaches

The French digital privacy watchdog in the Commission Nationale de L’informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), announced on 22nd of December that it had fined Microsoft $64M for breaking advertising laws. The CNIL said the Microsoft search engine Bing was operating with a system that did not allow users to easily get out of cookie collection. 

This  is a requirement under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation and the Microsoft fine is the largest the CNIL has given this year. The Microsoft fine was issued to Microsoft’s European HQ in Ireland and the company has been given three months to rectify the issue, with a potential further penalty of 60,000 Euros per day overdue.

CNIL said the large fine was justified due to the money Microsoft made from advertising profits generated from the violation. 

When users visited Bing, cookies were deposited on their terminals without consent and later used for advertising purposes, the CNIL said. Although Bing offered a button to accept cookies, two clicks were needed to refuse them. This type of cookie can be placed only after the user's consent according to the law, the statement added.
The regulator observed a more complex refusal mechanism of cookies on the website to discourage users from refusing cookies and "encouraging them to favor the ease of the consent button appearing in the first window."
It was considered a process "violating the freedom of consent of internet users."

Microsoft said that it had implemented changes to its cookie collection process before the CNIL’s investigation began. "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."

The Microsoft case follows complaints by privacy campaigning group Noyb that Meta's three apps fail to meet Europe's strict rules on data protection. Google and Facebook were sanctioned by the CNIL in 2021 with fines of €150m and €60m respectively ($159m and $64m) for similar breaches of the GDPR.

CNIL:    Microsoft:    VNExpress:      Anadolu Agency:      Oodaloop:       Infosecurity Magazine:    Daily Sabah

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