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France Targets Apple and Google for ‘Abusive Commercial Practices’

Google and Apple are in the sights of France's finance minister over conditions they attach to deals with app developers
AFP

French authorities are reportedly considering fining Apple and Google for allegedly taking advantage of smaller french tech firms.

The Wall Street Journal reports that French Finance Ministry is considering fining tech giants Apple and Google for taking advantages of smaller French software developers. The FFM has filed a complaint in a Paris court asking them to order Apple and Google to end “abusive commercial practices” following a three-year-long investigation by the government into how the major tech firms treat smaller French software developers that produce applications for mobile devices. 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.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire commented on the case during a French radio show saying “No matter how powerful Google and Apple may be, they cannot treat our start-ups and developers the way they do today.” French authorities have denied that the sudden crackdown on tech firms has any relation to the Unite States’ new tariffs and taxes, however, France has recently begun speaking out against tech firms with a finance ministry official recently stating that Europe “needs to stand up and defend its own interests.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, the recent U.S. tax rules and President Trump’s discussion of new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports could affect tech and pharmaceutical companies based in Europe. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire is set to speak with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross about the U.S. tax plan and is expected to call for an exemption for countries in the EU. Le Maire has long been a critic of tech firms, calling for the taxation of tech companies revenue rather than their profit and has argued that these tech firms use loopholes and safe havens to pay very little tax in countries that they’re based in.

French authorities said that the latest case brought against Apple and Google is designed to address “significant imbalances” in how French software developers are treated. “When our developers want to sell their app on Google or Apple, the fees are imposed on them,” Mr. Le Maire said. “That’s unacceptable. It’s not the economy we want.”

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