Microsoft Fined $64 Million for Misusing Advertising Cookies

The French privacy authorities fined Microsoft $64 million (60 million euros) for forcing advertising cookies on individuals.

The National Commission for Technology and Freedoms (CNIL), which imposed the largest fine, stated that Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, lacked a structure that allowed individuals to reject them as quickly as they accepted them.

Microsoft has a lot on its plate this year, including several concerns that must be addressed.

In addition to its current issues with Teams, GitHub Copilot, and several lawsuits connected to its proposed $69 billion merger with Activision, it also has to pay a hefty $64 million due to the CNIL’s inquiry revealing Microsoft’s forceful cookie acceptance system on Bing.

Risky Cookies

Cookies are downloaded on computers when users browse websites. It lets web browsers save data about their sessions, which can then be removed. It serves as the main source of income for numerous enterprises, including Google and Facebook.

When users visited this site, cookies were deposited on their terminal without their consent, while these cookies were used, amongst others, for advertising purposesFrench Regulators

CNIL justified the company’s severe financial repercussions by claiming it gained huge profits from illicit advertising created by data obtained via cookies. Although Bing provided a button for users to instantly accept cookies, it required two taps to reject it.

The regulator also instructed Microsoft to request permission before placing another cookie in users’ web browsers to identify fraudulent ad views. CNIL claimed that this cookie wasn’t required for the search engine to operate.

In addition to the fine, CNIL provided Microsoft 3 months to address the problem and make the necessary adjustments while threatening a daily fine of 60,000 euros for overdue.

Microsoft’s Response

The penalty was imposed on Microsoft Ireland, where the business has a European presence. Microsoft, though, isn’t giving ground quietly.

It continued by explaining how, just before the beginning of this investigation, it had made some significant adjustments to its cookie policies. They’re also quite concerned about the accusations made against the company.

According to the company’s representative, Microsoft hasn’t yet decided whether to appeal the CNIL ruling.

It could also be seen criticizing the French watchdog’s approach and claiming that such a stance would affect both individuals in France and their businesses.

Similarly, Microsoft underlined the vital roles of cookies for different platforms in the tech sector, as it helps to tailor the entire advertising process.

The CNIL’s penalties on Thursday are a part of a larger French regulator’s effort to pressure large tech firms and online publishers to introduce reject buttons for internet cookies that relate to targeted advertising as noticeable as those for accept.

Many European Union regulators do not consider targeted adverts necessary for a website’s functionality.

Other Tech Giants Fined

These issues are common in Europe, particularly in light of a 2018 personal data consent regulation that digital companies must abide by.

Facebook and Google are being investigated for sharing the personal information of EU nationals with United States servers.

Microsoft isn’t the first company to receive such a penalty: due to concerns regarding cookies, the CNIL imposed fines of 60 million euros for Facebook and 150 million euros for Google.

Europe’s data watchdog imposed legally binding judgments on Meta, the firm that runs Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook, regarding regulating personal data earlier this month.

In a release, the European Data Protection Supervisor only mentioned that the orders concerned Meta’s use of data for targeted advertising without giving any further details about its decision or potential penalties.

The most recent legal action is in response to claims by the privacy advocacy organization Noyb that 3 of Meta’s apps violate Europe’s stringent data protection rules.