French data protection watchdog slams 5 million euros fine on TikTok

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TikTok was fined 5 million euros ($5.4 million) in France for failing to comply with the country’s data protection law.

The €5 million fine is related to a cookie-consent flow TikTok used on its website ( until early last year, in which the regulator discovered it was not as easy for users to refuse cookies as it was for them to accept them, implying that TikTok was essentially manipulating consent by making it easier for site visitors to accept its tracking than to opt out.

Before the implementation of a “Reject all” button in February 2022, it took several clicks to refuse all cookies, as opposed to just one to accept them. Furthermore, the purpose of the various cookies was not sufficiently explained to website visitors.

The French data protection watchdog CNIL stated that its investigation was limited to the website and not the service’s much more popular smartphone apps.

“During the check carried out in June 2021, the CNIL noted that while the companies TikTok United Kingdom and TikTok Ireland did offer a button allowing cookies to be accepted immediately, they did not put in place an equivalent solution (button or other) to allow the Internet user to refuse their deposit just as easily. Several clicks were necessary to refuse all cookies, against only one to accept them,” the watchdog notes in a press release.

“These findings relate to past practices that we addressed last year, including making it easier to reject non-essential cookies and providing additional information about the purposes of certain cookies,” a spokesperson for TikTok said.

The sources for this piece include an article in Reuters.

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