French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire says he will take legal action against Google and Apple for abusive business practices, a move that could result in fines of “several million euros.”
Speaking on RTL Radio on Wednesday, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said that he “believes in an economy based on justice” and “will take Google and Apple before the Paris Commercial Court for abusive business practices”, Reuters reports.
These allegedly-abusive business practices relate to the way that the tech giants impose tariffs on developers who sell their apps via the iTunes App Store and Google Play, respectively.
Le Maire added that he finds it “unacceptable” that both companies can also gather data from developers and are both able to “unilaterally modify contracts.”
“All that is unacceptable and it’s not the economy that we want. 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.”
Le Maire added that, if found guilty, Apple and Google could face fines in the “millions of Euros”.
Le Maire also said he expected the European Union to close tax loopholes that benefit the likes of Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon by the start of 2019. According to recent reports, EU officials are working on a new tax that would see major technology companies pay between two per cent and six per cent of their revenues in taxes.
This isn’t the first time France has been embroiled in a legal tussle with Apple. Earlier this year, French regulators launched an investigation into the firm’s “deliberate” slowing down of older iPhones.
Under French law, it is a crime to intentionally shorten the lifespan of a product with the aim of making customers replace it. Companies found guilty of doing so risk fines of up to five per cent of their annual sales.
French pro-consumer group Stop Planned Obsolescence (HOP) filed the initial complaint against Apple, alleging the firm “deliberately” slowed down some iPhone models through a software update, and claims it did so to coincide with the release of the newer iPhone 8 and iPhone X.
“The slowing down of older devices seems to have the deliberate aim of pushing Apple customers towards purchasing the new model,” the group said.