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France punishes Google over contracts for app developers

FILE - French judges have ordered Google to rewrite the contracts it uses for app developers after officials said they were “imposing tariffs” on startups. In this file photo, a Google logo is reflected on the screen of a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone in this photo illustration taken in Prague January 31, 2014. File photo: David W Cerny/Reuters

FILE - French judges have ordered Google to rewrite the contracts it uses for app developers after officials said they were “imposing tariffs” on startups. In this file photo, a Google logo is reflected on the screen of a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone in this photo illustration taken in Prague January 31, 2014. File photo: David W Cerny/Reuters

Published Mar 30, 2022

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by Jules Bonnard

Paris - French judges have ordered Google to rewrite the contracts it uses for app developers after officials said they were “imposing tariffs” on startups.

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The US tech giant was fined two million euros for abusive commercial practices and told to modify seven clauses in its contracts, according to a ruling by a commercial court in Paris issued on Monday and seen by AFP on Tuesday.

One of the clauses forced developers to price their apps within a range set by Google, awarding the firm a 30 percent commission from each sale on the Play Store.

France's competition authority (DGCCRF) started legal proceedings in 2018 over the contract clauses, introduced by the firm during 2015 and 2016.

The court found that the disputed clauses had been imposed "without effective negotiation" and had created "a significant imbalance in the rights and obligations of the parties".

The judges gave Google three months to change the contracts.

Google said it had already altered several of the clauses and that it had recently lowered its commission for small developers.

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Google, along with Facebook and other tech giants, is under huge pressure from regulators across the world for alleged anti-competitive practices and breaches of data privacy rules.

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