France to Take Legal Action Against US Tech Giants

15 March, 2018, 06:17 | Author: Lucy Floyd
  • Screenshot by Claudia Cruz  CNET

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Wednesday France will take legal action against Google and Apple and fines could be in the "million of euros".

He said in particular that the 2 United States giants imposed financial conditions on French app developers while siphoning data on their use, and that both Apple and Google "can unilaterally modify contracts".

Le Maire added that he finds it "unacceptable" that both companies can also gather data from developers and are both able to "unilaterally modify contracts". They can't treat our startups and developers the way they do...

Tech start-ups are a favourite of French President Emmanuel Macron, who has sought to overhaul the nation's laws and regulations to allow entrepreneurs to flourish. Some developers are reportedly unhappy that Apple and Google sometimes receive a percentage of in-app purchases from mobile applications and gain more access to the personal details of users than the developers do.

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Spokespeople for Apple France and Google France did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"We are ready to explain our position before the courts", it said.

The government's latest moves dovetail with a lawsuit filed against Apple by a French business software start-up, Nexedi, 18 months ago - a case that will also be heard at the Paris Commercial Court from May 31. These targeted companies and individuals making software for the App Store and Google Play. This comes after a two-year investigation by the ministry's fraud repression unit, according to an official in Le Maire's office. He further stated that the companies impose their own pricing model and alter other contractual terms with developers the way they please. It was revealed in December 2017 that the Finance Ministry is seeking to fine Amazon 10 million euros.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the recent US tax rules and President Trump's discussion of new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports could affect tech and pharmaceutical companies based in Europe.

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