On April 2, 2021 the French Data Protection Authority (the “Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés” or “CNIL”) published its intent to start auditing websites for compliance with cookie regulations. This publication comes following a large number of developments and actions taken by the CNIL to further improve and guide organizations through cookie compliance. The CNIL had issued several recommendations, guidelines and cookie tools to raise awareness on the importance of this topic, with a final set of guidelines published on October 1, 2020 following public consultation rounds (“Cookie Guidelines”). The CNIL had determined that a 6-month grace period would apply following publication of the Cookie Guidelines. This grace period ended on April 1, 2021 and the CNIL now expects companies to be compliant with its recommendations and guidelines. The CNIL has confirmed that it may make use of the totality of its corrective powers to remedy non-compliance with the rules, including issuing (public) sanctions. In light of the increase in scrutiny on cookies in the EU (and the US pursuant to certain state laws), organizations with websites / platforms operating in the EU (and U.S.) may want to reconsider their cookie practices and start carrying out cookie audits.
Amidst significant economic and legal concerns, on February 12, 2021, the Maryland Senate joined the House in voting to override Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of House Bill 732 (HB 732) to adopt a Digital Advertising Gross Revenues Tax (Tax), the nation’s first tax targeting digital advertising. The override was successful despite significant pushback from a coalition of more than 200 businesses and Republican legislators who sought to sustain the veto. HB 732 is intended to provide significant revenues to support education reforms in the state.
The Tax is likely to affect large technology-based and online companies that derive revenue from advertisements on their websites and platforms (rather than companies deriving their revenues entirely from subscription services). Thus such companies, as well as their owners and sponsors, should carefully consider the information below and the impact of the Tax on their business models.