France threatens to fine Big Tech over developer abuse

Thursday 15th March, 2018

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France threatens to fine Big Tech over developer abuse
The country's finance ministry could fine Apple, Google and Amazon over $2 mn each
France is threatening to fine Google and Apple for abusive commercial practices through their app stores, further complicating the relationship with the very companies the country seeks to attract.
Finance minister Bruno Le Maire said on Wednesday that France will take legal action against Google and Apple and fines could be in the "millions of euros" .Fines are likely to be about 2 million euros ($2.5 million) per company, accused of taking advantage of local developers. This comes after a two-year investigation by the ministry's fraud repression unit, according to an official in Le Maire's office.
"Ilearned 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," Le Maire said in an interview with RTL radio. "All that is unacceptable and it's not the economy that we want. They can't treat our startups and developers the way they do."
Google said its terms comply with French laws and it intends to make that case in court, according to an e-mailed statement by a representative for the company in France. The company said it has been collaborating with the French fraud office on several matters over the past few years, including its Google Play app store.
A representative for Apple didn't respond to a request for comment.
France has had a complicated relationship with Internet giants. On the one hand the country is courting them to set up operations in the country and on the other hand it is leading efforts at the European Union level to force them to pay more taxes in the countries where they operate, rather than in low-tax countries such as Ireland and Luxembourg where
Google said its terms comply with French laws and it intends to make that case in court, according to an e-mailed statement by a representative for the company in France. The company said it has been collaborating with the French fraud office on several matters over the past few years, including its Google Play app store
they've based their European subsidiaries.
The likes of Google, Amazon and Fa-cebook meanwhile have consistently praised France for its talent pool of engineers and researchers over the past years.
They've cited the quality of candidates as the main reason for setting up labs in and around Paris on themes from artificial intelligence to delivery drones.
In the case unveiled by Le Maire on Wednesday,
the anti-fraud office determined that between 2015 and 2017 there were "significant imbalances" in the relationship between Google and Apple and developers who sold via their application stores.
The findings of a similar probe into Amazon.com lastyear are being reviewed by a tribunal, Le Maire's office said. Le Pa-risien reported last December that the finance ministry is seeking to fine Amazon 10 million euros.
The Developers Alliance, an industry group which boasts 70,000 developers globally as members, said it welcomes the support of the French government, but would rather see it focus on other fronts like the free flow of data and more open-nessbetweenmarkets. BLOOMBERG