France takes legal action against Apple and Google for their app stores

France’s Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire criticized Apple and Google for the way they run the App Store and Play Store. According to him, Google and Apple have too much power against app developers. Le Maire will ask a court to look at it and fine tech giants if necessary.

“When developers want to develop their apps and sell them through Google or Apple, those companies set the prices, Google and Apple get back some data, Google and Apple can unilaterally modify contracts with developers,” Le Maire told RTL. “All of this is unacceptable, this isn’t the economy that we want.”

This isn’t the first time French officials have paid attention to the App Store and Play Store. Last month, ARCEP president Sébastien Soriano shared a report that said that net neutrality should go beyond carriers and internet service providers. The ARCEP thinks that big tech companies also have a responsibility when it comes to the neutrality of the internet.

“This report has listed for the first time ever all the limitations you face as a smartphone user,” Soriano told me at the time. “By users, we mean both consumers and developers who submit apps in the stores.”

It’s clear that developers have no choice but to comply with App Store and Play Store rules. They have no choice but to pay Apple and Google 30 percent of their sales (or 15 percent for subscriptions).

If Apple or Google remove an app from their respective store, developers can’t take legal action because they signed a contract with them. But at the same time, they don’t have a say when it comes to negotiating the terms of those contracts.

“I’m going to take legal action against Google and Apple with the Paris Commercial Court for abusive business practices,” Le Maire said. Google and Apple shouldn’t really be worried as he expects a fine of a few million euros. But it’s an interesting case anyway.

As for the upcoming European tax plans on big tech companies, Le Maire said that it will become effective by the end 2018. Earlier this month, he said that we will hear more about this in the coming weeks.