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France fines Amazon €3.3 million over contracts with third-party sellers

France's fraud authority said on Wednesday that it would fine e-commerce giant Amazon €3.3 million for its slowness in updating contracts with third-party sellers on its platform.

France fines Amazon €3.3 million over contracts with third-party sellers
The Amazon logo on the frontage of an Amazon centre in France in 2021 (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

In a statement, the competition, consumer and anti-fraud office (DGCCRF) said it had already ordered the company to correct “a significant imbalance in contractual conditions to Amazon’s benefit” in December 2021.

Amazon blew past the March 22 deadline to comply, with Wednesday’s penalty corresponding to €90,000 per day it failed to make the changes.

The US web giant had already been fined €4 million by the Paris trade court in 2019 for unfair conditions in its contracts with third-party sellers, the DGCCRF recalled.

“New irregularities” were uncovered in a fresh probe after that judgment, it added.

The fine against Amazon is the first use of a new DGCCRF power allowing it to impose penalties of up to one percent of a company’s worldwide revenue “relative to the seriousness of the harm to economic order”.

An Amazon spokesman said the company “remains in disagreement with the DGCCRF on its conclusions, its decisions and the relevant penalty, and is contesting each of them in court”.

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TECH

France fines Microsoft €60 million over cookies

France's privacy watchdog has fined  US tech giant Microsoft €60 million for foisting advertising cookies on users.

France fines Microsoft €60 million over cookies

In the largest fine imposed in 2022, the National Commission for Technology and Freedoms (CNIL) said Microsoft’s search engine Bing had not set up a system allowing users to refuse cookies as simply as accepting them.

The French regulator said that after investigations it found that “when users visited this site, cookies were deposited on their terminal without their consent, while these cookies were used, among others, for advertising purposes.”

It also “observed that there was no button allowing to refuse the deposit of cookies as easily as accepting it.”

The CNIL said the fine was justified in part because of the profits the company made from advertising profits indirectly generated from the data collected via cookies – tiny data files that track online browsing.

The company has been given three months to rectify the issue, with a potential further penalty of 60,000 euros per day overdue.

Last year the CNIL said it would carry out a year of checks against sites not following the rules on using web cookies.

Google and Facebook were sanctioned last year by the CNI with fines of €150 million and €60 million respectively for similar breaches.

The two firms also face scrutiny over their practice of sending the personal data of EU residents to servers in the United States.

And tech giants continue to face a slew of cases across Europe.

Earlier this month, Europe’s data watchdog imposed binding decisions concerning the treatment of personal data by Meta, the owner of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

The European Data Protection Supervisor said in a statement that the rulings concerned Meta’s use of data for targeted advertising, but did not give details of its ruling or recommended fines.

The latest case follows complaints by privacy campaigning group Noyb that Meta’s three apps fail to meet Europe’s strict rules on data protection.

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