France has fined Microsoft $64 million (€60 million) over ambiguity regarding how cookies are handled by its Bing search engine.
Bing is the second-largest search engine behind Google, one that many use specifically to avoid giving Google any more of their data. Despite this, Bing has run afoul of EU data privacy laws by depositing cookies on users’ computers without consent.
The CNIL (Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés) outlined the nature of the allegations:
When users visited the search engine “bing.com”, a cookie with several purposes, including the fight against advertising fraud, was automatically deposited on their terminal without any action on their part.
Furthermore, when they kept browsing the search engine, a cookie with an advertising purpose was placed on their terminal, again without their consent being collected.
However, the law requires that this type of cookies be deposited only after the users have expressed their consent.
The CNIL also says Bing did not make it easy to reject cookies:
While the search engine offered a button to accept cookies immediately, it did not offer an equivalent solution (button to refuse or other) to allow the Internet user to refuse them as easily. Two clicks were needed to refuse all cookies, while only one was needed to accept them.
If Microsoft does not comply with the CNIL’s ruling by the deadline, the company will be fined “60,000 euros per day overdue.”