France To Take Legal Action Against Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple

Mistreatment of startups, developers, overwhelmingly dominant positions, and abusive commercial practices cited as reasons for probe.

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Mistreatment of startups, developers, overwhelmingly dominant positions, and abusive commercial practices cited as reasons for probe.

France will take legal action against Google and Apple for what statesmen consider to be “abusive commercial practices,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced today. As Bloomberg reported, Le Maire spoke to RTL radio.

“I learned that when developers develop their applications, and sell to Google and Apple, their prices are imposed, Google and Apple take all their data, Google and Apple can unilaterally rewrite their contracts,” the Minister said, adding Google and Apple’s actions are unacceptable, and that these tech giants shouldn’t be allowed to “treat our [French] startups and developers the way they do.”

The fines could be in the millions of euros. Finance ministry fraud office’s investigation showed that there were significant imbalances between Google, Apple and French developers who sold their apps via App and Play Store. This concerns the time period between 2015 and 2017.

The fraud office’s investigation is not the first investigation in France to probe American tech giants. It was revealed in December 2017 that the Finance Ministry is seeking to fine Amazon 10 million euros. As Engadget reported at the time, the city of Paris complained that Amazon is hurting and destabilizing the economy. Likewise, Finance Minister Bruno La Maire stressed that Amazon might be pushing French sellers into bankruptcy.

France seems to have a complicated relationship with tech companies. Apart from Google, Apple, and Amazon, Facebook is facing similar accusations. Last week, Reuters reported that France may probe the social networking giant over online ad dominance. France’s competition authority examined Facebook and Google’s positions in the French online advertising market, determining that both companies should be investigated for what president of the French competition body, Isabelle de Silva, called an “overwhelmingly dominant position” in the market.

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France is not the only European country to have tackled these technological giants. As it was reported by the Inquisitr in January, the European Union has officially announced legal maneuvers, meant to combat the monopoly companies like Google and Facebook have on user data. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will enter into force on May 25, 2018, will be the biggest overhaul of personal data in the history of the internet.

GDPR will force internet companies to allow users to export and delete personal data and internet companies will be required to ask for consent using plain, easily-understandable language. Furthermore, the regulation will drastically increase fines to ensure companies comply. These strict laws have already forced Facebook, for example, to redefine and publicize its privacy principles for the first time ever.