Cookies: online advertising players stand up against the CNIL

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Posted on Jan. 14, 2020, 5:52 p.m.Updated on Jan 14, 2020 at 6:21 p.m.

The day after the publication of the CNIL’s recommendations on
obtaining the consent of Internet users before any online tracking

   , the indignation of online advertising professionals is at its peak. Without even waiting for the end of the public consultation, which has just opened for six weeks, spokespersons and lobbyists of these essential companies in the online media and e-commerce economy are shooting at
the CNIL project.

Showing its disagreement on the practices of digital players in terms of cookies, the regulator launched a call to better apply the rules of the game, more than eighteen months after the entry into force of the European regulation on the protection of personal data (RGPD).

The CNIL insists in particular that websites record the refusal of an internet user to deposit cookies on their computer intended to follow their navigation, and that they then cease to require their consent, at least for a certain time. “The CNIL invents an additional local ban compared to the European text”, protests Etienne Drouard, the counsel of nine professional associations in the sector, for whom the regulator takes on a role of lawmaker that is not his own.

Disaster scenario

For the independent authority headed by Marie-Laure Denis, obtaining consent “Free and enlightened” – as required by European regulations – cannot however be the result
repetitive requests each time you visit a website…

Problem: this constraint will weigh in one way or another on the online advertising sector, whose leaders fear a black scenario where the acceptance rate of cookies would pass, according to their estimates, from 70% today only 10%…

“Storing the refusal sustainably will change the economic situation”, notes Etienne Drouard. The prospect of such a low acceptance rate for cookies would prevent companies in the sector from personalizing their advertising to a majority of Internet users.

However, these targeted advertisements are sold at a higher price than contextual advertising. They are also known to be more effective. In this catastrophic scenario, e-commerce sites could see their sales fall if they fail to attract Internet users to their platforms. The value of advertising space sold by online media could also be impacted.

Audience at the Council of State

The web advertising industry does not intend to stop there. A next meeting is already scheduled before the Council of State which must judge an appeal filed by several professional associations against the guidelines already published by the CNIL last summer and which served as a basis for the recommendations of the day . A hearing is expected in March.

If they are not heard, professionals in the sector will go up to the European level. But the passage of time worries them. “Until these Franco-French inventions are debated up to the European Court of Justice, will we allow the promise of European harmonization of the GDPR to be imploded and, with it, the few French champions that we have left? “ wonders Etienne Drouard.

Symbol of French Tech, Criteo has already embarked on diversification allowing it to be less dependent on cookies placed on the computers of Internet users, but this movement takes time.

Also consulted by the CNIL in recent months, La Quadrature du Net will not fail to make the voice of a part of civil society heard on this document in the coming weeks. “We would have liked the CNIL to prohibit websites from offering an ‘Accept all’ button before having precisely described all the purposes of collecting personal data and the list of companies that will have access to it”, regrets Arthur Messaud, lawyer within the association specializing in Internet freedoms. The debate is just beginning …


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