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France fines Facebook for data protection breaches

Reuters/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

French digital watchdog CNIL said on Tuesday it had fined Facebook for snooping on users without their knowledge, following a probe of the social network in cooperation with other European regulators.

Following a two-year investigation, CNIL said it had slapped a penalty of 150,000 euros - , the maximum fine in such cases - on Facebook Inc and Facebook Ireland, for "several breaches of the French Data Protection Act".

The digital watchdog added that Facebook had built up "a massive compilation of personal data of internet users in order to display targeted advertising".

Unfair tracking

The US-based internet giant had also "collected data on browsing activity of internet users on third-party websites, via the 'datr' cookie, without their knowledge", the agency said, calling the action "unfair tracking".

The French case is part of a Europe-wide approach, CNIL said, with Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and the German city state of Hamburg also investigating and working with France.

Facebook, which has about 33 million users in France, had been put on notice twice to comply with French law but CNIL judged its responses "unsatisfactory".

Four months to appeal

Facebook said in a statement to the AFP news agency that it "respectfully" disagreed with the ruling and that it complied with European data protection laws.

The company now has four months to file an appeal with France's highest administrative court. It did not say whether it will.

Last year CNIL slapped a 100,000-euro fine on US internet giant Google for failing to delist user information from all of its search engine extensions at the request of users.

Google has appealed.