France’s privacy watchdog has fined Microsoft’s Ireland subsidiary 60 million euros for deploying advertising cookies on users’ devices without their explicit consent and failing to adhere to EU data protection laws.
The French National Commission for Technology and Freedoms (CNIL) pointed out that the tech giant’s search engine, Bing, made it easier for users to accept advertising cookies than to reject them.
Upon visiting the search engine, users would be prompted to click a button to accept all cookies. However, refusing cookies required two clicks, making it more inconvenient. According to the commission, discouraging users from refusing cookies could be perceived as a violation of their freedom of consent.
The data privacy regulator noted that Microsoft also installed two cookies on users’ devices without requesting consent.
“When a user went to the ’bing.com‘ search engine, a cookie serving several purposes, including the fight against advertising fraud, was automatically placed on his terminal without action on his part,” according to the commission’s announcement. “Moreover, when he continued to browse on the search engine, a cookie with an advertising purpose was placed on his terminal, again without his consent having been obtained.”
The CNIL’s restricted committee, responsible for issuing sanctions, decided on a 60 million euro fine. The committee justified the amount by the number of data subjects, the scope of processing, and the benefits acquired from the “advertising revenue indirectly generated from the data collected by the cookies.”
Dedicated software such as Bitdefender VPN can protect your online privacy and stop online trackers from monitoring your online behavior. Key features include: