(Reuters) — France will take Google and Apple to court over contractual terms imposed by the tech giants on startups and developers, said Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.
Speaking on RTL radio, Le Maire said on Wednesday he had become aware that Alphabet’s Google and Apple unilaterally imposed prices and other contractual terms on software developers.
“I will therefore be taking Google and Apple to the Paris commercial court for abusive trade practices,” Le Maire said. “As powerful as they are, Google and Apple should not be able to treat our startups and our developers the way they currently do.”
Spokespeople for Apple France and Google France did not immediately respond to calls and messages from Reuters seeking comment.
Le Maire also said he expected the European Union to close tax loopholes that benefit Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon by the start of 2019. Brussels is currently examining measures to improve the taxation of overseas tech giants’ online business in European markets.
(Reporting by Laurence Frost and Julie Carriat; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)
Updated March 15, 2018 at 9:42 a.m.: Apple France has issued a statement in response, reprinted and translated below from MacGeneration.
We are proud to have strong relationships with tens of thousands of developers across France, who have earned 1 billion euros in the App Store. Many of these talented developers started their businesses with one or two people and then saw their teams grow to offer their applications to users in 155 countries. This was only possible thanks to Apple’s investment in iOS, development tools and the App Store.
Apple has always defended the privacy and security of users and does not have access to user transactions with third-party applications. We are fully willing to share our story in the French courts and clarify this misunderstanding. In the meantime, we will continue to help French developers realize their dreams and support French students in their code learning through our coding program.
Google has also responded.
With over 1000 downloads per second, Google Play is a great way for European application developers, of all sizes, many in France, to offer their apps to users around the world. We have collaborated with the DGCCRF on many topics in recent years, including on Google Play. We consider that our conditions are in accordance with French law and we are ready to explain our position before the courts.