Paris (AFP)

The CNIL, policeman of the private life of the French, on Thursday sanctioned the daily Le Figaro with a fine of 50,000 euros for having used advertising cookies on its site without obtaining the prior consent of Internet users.

Having received a complaint, the Commission carried out several checks between 2020 and 2021, and found that cookies - small files used to track Internet users - were deposited by partners of the newspaper "without action" on the part of the visitor or " despite his refusal ".

The obligation to request consent for the deposit of digital tracers is not new and dates before the entry into force of the European Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, recalls the CNIL.

The Commission sanctions the publisher of the site because it considers that it is its responsibility to ensure the good practices of its partners.

Contacted by AFP, the Figaro was not able to comment immediately.

In June, the daily's sites were in 2nd place among the most visited media in France (behind Orange) with 134.5 million visits per month, according to the Alliance for Press and Media Figures (AJPM).

The subject of cookies changed in April in France with the expiration of a period left to publishers by the CNIL to adapt to its "recommendation" of October 2020, which puts the principles of the GDPR into practice.

Concretely, the regulator wishes that on the consent collection banners, the button "Refuse all" is as easy to access as "Accept all".

The Commission has warned around sixty web players, including "major platforms of the digital economy", through formal notices, and is preparing sanctions.

The French media, some of which broadcast free content and are very financially dependent on advertising, reacted in dispersed order.

Many people now display a consent banner allowing them to accept targeted advertising or "Continue without accepting", even if it means sometimes leaving a residual banner on part of the screen.

Several (notably the Prisma Media and Webedia sites) have experimented with setting up a "Cookie Wall" by offering Internet users to accept the deposit of tracers or to pay for access to the site: a practice whose legality will be judged on a case-by-case basis depending on the existence of sufficient alternatives for the Internet user.

Finally, a few rare sites (NextInpact, Reflets, or Canard PC) have undertaken not to use cookies or technologies from advertising companies.

© 2021 AFP