France fines TikTok $5.4 million for online tracking shortcomings

PARIS (Reuters) -France on Thursday fined TikTok 5 million euros ($5.4 million) for shortcomings linked to the short video platform’s handling of online tracking known as “cookies”, which the ByteDance-owned company said it had now addressed.

French data protection watchdog CNIL said that its investigation only concerned the website tiktok.com and not the service’s much more heavily used smartphone applications.

The CNIL found that for tiktok.com’s users, it was not as easy to refuse online trackers as to accept them. The authority also found that internet users were not sufficiently informed about TikTok’s use of the cookies.

“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 CNIL itself highlighted our cooperation during the course of the investigation and user privacy remains a top priority for TikTok,” the spokesperson added.

Under European Union rules, websites must clearly ask for the prior consent of internet users for any use of cookies – small pieces of data stored while navigating on the Web.

They should also make it easy to refuse them, according to the EU’s rules.

($1 = 0.9253 euros)

(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel and Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by GV De Clercq and Alexander Smith)

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