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News Item: Google makes cookie opt-out easier after France fine

Google announced on Thursday it was starting to roll out an option for European users to reject “cookies” with a single click, months after it was slapped with a massive fine.

Google, along with Facebook, has faced an onslaught of legal cases and punishments over its use of web-tracking technology, which breaches EU privacy legislation.

Cookies are packets of data installed on a user’s computer that allow browsers to save information about their session.

“We have completely overhauled our approach, including changing the infrastructure we use to manage cookies,” the US giant wrote in a blog post.

Google committed to changing its practices after French data watchdog CNIL slapped it with a 150-million-euro ($162 million) fine in January.

The body criticised Google and Facebook for making it more difficult to opt-out of tracking than opt-in, ordering both firms to make changes within three months or face a penalty of 100,000 euros a day.

Facebook was fined 60 million euros and now offers users the option of accepting “only essential cookies”.

Google’s update has started to be deployed in France on YouTube and will be extended to all its platforms across Europe.

“These changes have consequences not only for our search engine and YouTube, but also for the sites and content creators who rely on cookies to increase their business and generate revenue,” said Google.

The firm has said it is trying to develop new tools to preserve its advertising-based business model while complying with the new regulatory requirements.

Google and Facebook use cookies to target advertising, which is their primary source of revenue.

But privacy advocates have long pushed back.

Since the European Union passed a law on personal data in 2018, known as the GDPR, internet companies are obliged to seek the direct consent of users before installing cookies on their computers.