France cracks down on U.S. tech giants
French Culture Minister Aurelie Fileppetti looks for books in a Paris bookshop. Photo by Pierre Verdy/AFP/Getty Images
The French government has kicked off 2014 with blows against U.S. Internet companies Amazon and Google.
On Thursday the French Senate approved a bill that bans online book retailers like Amazon — without naming the company specifically — from offering free shipping on deliveries in that country. This new move adds an amendment to France’s “Lang Law” of 1981, which limited price discounts on books in order to protect independent book retailers from supermarket chains. Under the law, publishers decide on the price of a book and all booksellers are restricted from discounting that price more than 5 percent. However, Amazon found a way to become more competitive: giving customers the 5 percent discount and throwing in free shipping. The bill received unanimous support across political parties and both houses of parliament will now work on final language for the bill.
Separately, Google was ordered to pay a 150,000 euro fine to the French government after ignoring an order by the French watchdog agency for data protection known as CNIL to change practices that were found to be violating national privacy laws. CNIL also ordered the tech giant and to publish a copy of the fine on its website in France within eight days of Jan. 3.
These two developments [are the latest efforts to keep American Internet firms at bay[(http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/01/10/gumbel-france-idINL2N0KK2J120140110). In late 2013 the French government issued a decree that forces online private minicab services like Uber to wait a minimum of 15 minutes before picking up passengers. Netflix is still not available in France and Yahoo! was prevented by a government minister from buying the French video site Dailymotion.