France suing Google, Apple over mobile developer contract terms

A member of the Alawite community pastes on a wall in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli 06 December 2007

A member of the Alawite community pastes on a wall in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli 06 December 2007

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.

"I will therefore be taking Google and Apple to the Paris commercial court for abusive trade practices", said Le Maire RTL radio on Wednesday.

He said start-ups face conditions imposed on them when selling their apps on Google and Apple which "also gather data" and "both can unilaterally modify contracts".

App developers, for example, were unable to negotiate the fees for having their products listed in Apple's App Store or Google Play.

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France's Digital Minister Mounir Mahjoubi has often criticised the "golden prisons" for internet users, whose access to content is controlled by United States technology giants.

Apple and Google are not saying anything about the court moves. 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 previously threatened to tax the two firms based on their sales in France, denouncing the legal strategies they use to pay taxes at lower rates in other European Union countries.

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.

He added the current action could result in penalties reaching several million euros.

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