France Targets Apple and Google for 'Abusive Commercial Practices'

Google's logo and Apple's logo

Google's logo and Apple's logo

Le Maire said it is unacceptable that the two tech giants "unilaterally modify contracts" and promised to take legal action to put a stop to them bullying small start-ups and developers, according to Reuters.

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. If the court agrees with the government and regulator, Apple and Google could be forced to pay up to $2.5 million in fines.

"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", said Le Maire. A complaint filed by the finance ministry asked a Paris court to order the companies to end "abusive commercial practices". As Bloomberg reported, Le Maire spoke to RTL radio.

French authorities said that the latest case brought against Apple and Google is created to address "significant imbalances" in how French software developers are treated.

In January, the DGCCRF launched a probe against Apple over whether it deliberately phased out older iPhones to force customers to upgrade to a newer model.

Mr Le Maire said the action could result in fines of millions of euros for both firms. He further stated that the companies impose their own pricing model and alter other contractual terms with developers the way they please.

The legal and fiscal wrangling comes as US President Donald Trump has fanned fears of a wider trade war, pledging to impose a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent tariff on imports of aluminium.

The European Commission, the 28-nation EU executive body, warned Wednesday that it would impose countermeasures on flagship U.S. products including peanut butter, orange juice and bourbon whiskey if Trump goes ahead with the metal tariffs.

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