If Google thought that the French would surrender when it came to regulating its dominant market position it was sadly mistaken.
Watchdog, the Autorite de la Concurrence, which has spent 10 months investigating the market on the instruction of the French government has issued a series of “targeted responses”.
The authority’s president told French hacks that it wanted to warn Google where it risks crossing the line, and the conditions attached to certain practices.
Apparently the watchdog had found “possible exclusionary conduct intended to discourage, delay or eliminate competitors through procedures that do not consist of merit-based competition”.
What it was more worried about was “possible operational abuses, whereby the search engine apparently imposes exorbitant conditions on its partners or customers, treats them in a discriminatory manner or refuses to guarantee a minimum degree of transparency in the contractual relations that it establishes with them”.
As a result the French government also decided that it will introduce a one percent tax on online advertisements from 1 January. It is expected to raise around €50 million and Google will pay €45 million.
Google’ will be miffed at that, but given it makes €800 million profits in France, it is unlikely to care too much. It might be a little worried if other governments follow suit.
The tax could be diverted to the creative sectors struggling to develop their businesses online.
Google has moaned the best way to develop support those businesses would be to encourage innovation rather than introducing a new tax. However the French government has responded by sticking its fingers in its ears and going La, la, la [shurely Ooh, la, la.Ed]