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The French Council of State confirms the fine against Amazon

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In a decision dated June 27, 2022, the French Council of State confirmed the 35 million euro penalty imposed by the French Data Protection Authority (the CNIL) against Amazon in 2020.

In 2020, the CNIL accused Amazon of having placed advertising cookies on users’ computers from the Amazon website without prior consent and without satisfactory information. The 35 million fine was justified in the eyes of the CNIL « by the seriousness of the breaches found ».

Indeed, between December 12, 2019 and May 19, 2020, the CNIL had conducted several checks on the amazon website. These checks led to the observation that when a user visited this site, cookies were automatically deposited on his computer, without any action from him. Several of these cookies were used for advertising purposes. 

Cookies are computer files that are deposited on the user’s computer, via the web browser. They perform various tasks, some of which are very useful : they can be used to memorize your customer ID with a merchant site, the current content of your shopping cart, the language of your web page, etc. Others are not very popular: this is the case of advertising cookies, which are able to track the activity of an Internet user on the web. Therefore, they are also referred to as trackers.

Condemned at the same time as Amazon, Google had also filed an appeal against its 100 million euro fine. The Council of State rejected itl last January.

However, Amazon is not out of the woods yet. Although it was able to get rid of the injunction and satisfy the CNIL by correcting the lack of information in time, avoiding having to pay 100,000 euros per day in addition to the 35 million euro fine, the group remains exposed. The CNIL does not only want a complete information banner: it also wants a fair information banner.

The CNIL has not yet been able to specifically address the Amazon case, as this matter occurred before the deadline for these new requirements. However, the French DPA warns that it is free to control the design of these banners and, if necessary, to take further action against the tech giant.

By Mélissa Walehiane

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