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France: CNIL's cookies guidelines and recommendations enter into force

The French data protection authority ('CNIL') addressed, on 2 April 2020, the conclusion of the transition period for its updated guidelines and final recommendations on cookies and other trackers, which entered into effect on 31 March 2021. In particular, CNIL reiterated certain key principles of the new guidelines and recommendations, including:

  • the requirement to inform the data subject of the purposes of the collection of their personal data;
  • the necessity of a clear and positive action, whereby the absence of a response constitutes a rejection of the use of non-essential cookies; and
  • the recommendation to integrate a 'Refuse All' option, instead of a preference management option on the same information layer as an 'Accept All' option. 

Regarding the legality of cookie walls, CNIL specified that it will assess the same, and whether data subject consent is thus freely given, on a case-by-case basis, whilst remaining alert to any possible alternatives to the use of cookie walls in such cases. 

In addition, CNIL summarised some of its recent efforts, including further practical guidance and tools, to support public and private sector professionals affected by its new guidelines and recommendations, as well as raising awareness on the same by sending letters and emails to approximately 200 public bodies encouraging them to carry out audits of their websites and mobile applications to ensure compliance with the new provisions. 

Lastly, CNIL clarified that it will carry out investigations, possibly resulting in formal notices and public sanction procedures, into compliance with the new rules on cookies and other trackers, in line with the pre-existing requirements under Articles 4(11) and (7) of the General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) ('GDPR') and Article 82 of the Act No.78-17 of 6 January 1978 on Data Processing, Data Files and Individual Liberties (as amended to implement the GDPR).

You can read the press release, only available in French, here.