French sites CDiscount, Allociné and Vanity Fair are targeted since Tuesday by an emanate from an Austrian association for the protection of privacy. In question: their attitude vis-à-vis Internet users who have expressly refused to be followed online by cookies. Corrections and investigations are ongoing on these platforms.

An Austrian association for the protection of privacy filed three complaints on Tuesday with the French regulator of personal data against sites and their advertising partners for not having respected the refusal of Internet users to be traced online. The French sites targeted are the CDiscount online sales site, the Allociné cinema guide (Webedia) and the Vanity Fair fashion magazine (Condé Nast group).

According to the complaints sent to the Commission Nationale Informatique et Libertés (Cnil), the information banners present on these sites that ask the user to accept or refuse to be followed online by third-party companies do not really block the deposit of cookies, tracers automatically installed when visiting a website. "These companies have therefore placed advertising tracking cookies after users have clearly opposed any follow-up," accuses the association noyb ("None Of Your Business", 'it does not concern you' in French).

"False consent"

Notably, Facebook in the case of CDiscount, and two advertising companies have used this "false consent to track the online activity of consumers," says noyb who associated in his complaints these companies to site publishers. "No one in this system seems to make sure that consumers have actually agreed to be targeted for advertising." It is absurd to see that websites simply replace a rejection of cookie installation with an agreement in the simple purpose of selling our data, "said Gaëtan Goldberg, a data protection lawyer at noyb.

Asked by AFP, the Webedia group admitted that the recent addition of a program of "reconciliation of audience and non-advertising" had led to the "systematic deposit" of a cookie of his partner "without questioning the chain of consent". A correction is in progress, depending on the group. "We apologize to our customers for this malfunction that is being resolved," wrote CDiscount in a response sent to AFP. Condé Nast, for his part, said he mobilized his technical teams to investigate further. Contacted, Facebook was not able to comment in the immediate future.

The Austrian association noyb, which presents itself as the European Digital Rights Center, is at the origin of a complaint to the CNIL resulting in the conviction in January 2019 of Google to a fine of 50 million euros. According to the regulator, about fifty complaints have been filed on the subject of cookies since 2018.