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French court orders Facebook to pay €30,000 in France over ‘abusive’ methods

A French court has ordered Facebook to pay 30,000 euros ($34,000) over "abusive" terms-of-use agreements that people had to accept in order to access their social media accounts, the consumer group which filed the lawsuit said Wednesday.

French court orders Facebook to pay €30,000 in France over 'abusive' methods
Photo: AFP
The ruling came as France's consumer protection agency said it and the European Commission had secured Facebook's agreement to “significantly modify its terms of use” by the end of June.
   
They will include “clear language” spelling out that Facebook makes money by allowing targeted advertising based on the contents of a user's profile, the DGCCRF agency said.
   
The UFC-Que Choisir consumer group filed its case in 2014, saying 430 clauses in Facebook's user agreement were abusive, including keeping and selling data indefinitely, even after an account is closed, and changing the terms of use without informing people.
 
A Facebook spokesman said the case involved terms of use that have since been modified.
   
“Guaranteeing the transparency of our tools and services, and providing clear information to our users, is essential for Facebook,” he said.
   
The ruling follows similar 30,000 euro fines against Google announced last month, and Twitter in August. Both were lodged by UFC-Que Choisir.
 
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FACEBOOK

Facebook agrees with France to pay €106 million in back taxes

US social media giant Facebook on Monday said it had agreed with the French government to pay €106 million in back taxes for its French operations over a 10-year period from 2009, and to pay 50 percent more tax in the current year.

Facebook agrees with France to pay €106 million in back taxes
Many of the US digital giants have their EU headquarters in low-tax-regime countries. Photo: AFP

“We take our tax obligations seriously, pay the taxes we owe in all the markets in which we operate and work closely with tax administrations around the world to ensure compliance with all applicable tax laws and resolve any disputes,” a Facebook France spokesperson said in a statement.

The statement said that since 2018, Facebook changed its sales structure so that “income from advertisers supported by our teams in France is registered in this country”.

“This year we are paying €8.46 million in income tax, an increase of almost 50 percent compared to last year,” it said. 

“We have also entered into an agreement with the tax authorities covering the years 2009-2018, under which we will make a payment of €106 million.”

The payment by American digital giants of tax on revenues in the country in which they are accrued has been the subject of a longstanding conflict between France and the United States. 

Big EU countries say the so-called GAFA – Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon – are unfairly exploiting tax rules that let them declare profits in low-tax havens, depriving governments of a fair share of their fiscal payments.

Many of the US digital giants have their EU headquarters in low-tax-regime countries. 

The dispute between France and the United States on the digital giants' tax has escalated to the extent that the United States in July unveiled heavy import duties on France.

The office of US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer found France's digital services tax was discriminatory and “unfairly targets US digital technology companies,” and said it would impose punitive duties of 25 percent on $1.3 billion worth of French products.

But it will hold off on collecting the fees to allow time for the dispute to be resolved.

READ ALSO: Trump's US wine tariffs 'threaten 100,000 jobs in French countryside'

 

In the meantime, France, Britain, Spain, Italy and others have imposed taxes on the largest digital companies.

US officials have slammed these moves as discriminating against American firms, and say any new levies should come only as part of a broader overhaul of international tax rules.

In January, 137 countries agreed to negotiate a deal on how to tax tech multinationals by the end of 2020, under the auspices of the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

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