SHARE
COPY LINK

INTERNET

France vows legal action against Google and Apple for ‘abusive practices’

France will take legal action against Google and Apple for "abusive business practices", the country's Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Wednesday.

France vows legal action against Google and Apple for 'abusive practices'
Photo: AFP

“I believe in an economy based on justice and I will take Google and Apple before the Paris Commercial Court for abusive business practices” against French start-ups, Le Maire said on RTL radio.

He added the action could result in penalties reaching several million euros.

Le Maire said start-ups face conditions imposed on them when selling their apps on Google and Apple which “also gather data” and “both can unilaterally modify contracts.”

The minister said the situation is unacceptable.

“I consider that Google and Apple, as powerful as they are, shouldn't treat our start-ups and our developers in the way they do today,” said Le Maire.

The action against the firms comes as US President Donald Trump has moved towards imposing a 25-percent tariff on imported steel and 10-percent tariff on imports of aluminium.

It's not the first time France has become embroiled in legal disputes with the US internet giants.

Earlier this year Paris prosecutors launched a probe of US tech giant Apple over suspected slowing down of some iPhone models. Apple Execs could face a jail sentence if found guilty.

It came after a complaint by the association Stop Planned Obsolescence (HOP or Halte a l'Obsolescence Programmee) after Apple admitted last December that it intentionally slowed down older models of its iPhones over time.

And in July last year France announced it would appeal a court ruling that US internet giant Google is not liable for 1.12 billion euros ($1.27 billion) in taxes claimed by the state.

The court had ruled that France could not claim tax on revenues generated by Google in France that were transferred to its Irish subsidiary GIL.
   
Taxes are far lower in Ireland, a legal loophole prized by many multinationals in Europe.
 
But budget minister Gerald Darmanin vowed “We will appeal this ruling to safeguard the interests of the state.”

TECH

Google to appeal €500m French fine in copyright row

Google's legal tussle with French regulators continues.

Google to appeal €500m French fine in copyright row
Google to appeal €500m French fine in copyright row (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD / AFP)

Google on Wednesday said it is appealing a decision by France’s competition watchdog to hand it a €500m fine in a row with news outlets over the use of their content under EU copyright rules.

“We disagree with some of the legal elements, and consider the amount of the fine to be disproportionate compared to the efforts we have put in place to reach a deal and respect the new law,” Sebastien Missoffe, head of Google France, said in a statement.

The fine, issued by the French Competition Authority in July, was the biggest in the agency’s history for a failure to comply with one of its rulings.

Head of Google France, Sebastien Missoffe, has hit back against French regulators (Photo by JACQUES DEMARTHON / AFP)

The watchdog said Google had failed to negotiate “in good faith” with media companies in a long-running legal battle over the internet giant’s use of snippets of articles, photos and videos in search results.

The row has centred on claims that Google has used this content in its search results without adequate compensation, despite the seismic shift of global advertising revenues towards the search giant over the past two decades.

In April last year, the French competition authority ordered Google to negotiate “in good faith” with media groups after it refused to comply with a 2019 European Union law governing digital copyright.

The so-called “neighbouring rights” aim to ensure that news publishers are compensated when their work is shown on websites, search engines and social media platforms.

Last September, French news publishers including Agence France-Presse (AFP) filed a complaint with regulators, saying Google was refusing to move forward on paying to display content in web searches.

While Google insists it has made progress, the French regulator said the company’s behaviour “indicates a deliberate, elaborate and systematic lack of respect” for its order to negotiate in good faith.

The Competition Authority rebuked Google for failing to “have a specific discussion” with media companies about neighbouring rights during negotiations over its Google Showcase news service, which launched late last year.

Missoffe insisted Wednesday that Google “recognises neighbouring rights, and we remain committed to signing agreements in France”.

“We have extended our offers to nearly 1,200 publishers and modified aspects of our contracts,” he said, adding that the company has “shared data demanded of us in order to conform to the Competition Authority’s decision”.

SHOW COMMENTS