French minister of culture Aurélie Filippetti has lashed out to internet retailer Amazon. This is not the first battle between the French government and (mostly American) internet giants: earlier Yahoo and Microsoft also had a tussle with Paris and the infamous “tax on smartphones”, set to arrive later this year, will not improve those relationships.
“Gravedigger of book shops”
Filippetti came down hard on the world’s largest internet department store: “Everyone is fed up with Amazon, who maintains dumping prices to conquer a market and then raises those prices once it has achieved an almost-monopoly”, she said. The minister of culture is even thinking about making free shipments illegal and is threatening to suspend the current system, which allows discounts of 5% on the fixed prices of books.
Aurélie Filippetti made her speech in Bordeaux, where the French government unveiled a support plan of nine million euro for publishers and book shops. “This is an unparalleled effort for books and reading, because without independent book shops there will be fewer publishers and fewer authors, and thus less choice for the reader and less social networks in cities”, said the minister.
Internet (companies) as the public enemy?
The swipe of Filippetti is not the first and probably not the last attack of Paris towards internet companies. Recently there was also the contested plan toraise a tax on digital devices and services, to great displeasure of Apple and Samsung.
Not a month later minister of economy Montebourg used his veto when France Telecom wanted to sell three quarters of its fast-growing French video website DailyMotion to Yahoo, after he had earlier described Apple as “extremely brutal” and “unethical”, because a French start-up was declined access to the App Store.
Even president Hollande seems to be joining in: earlier this year he personally put pressure on Google to invest sixty million euro in the ailing French press. Without that investment, Google would be forced to give up part of their income received through links to French media.
Skype, the phone service of Microsoft, is also the subject of an investigation, because the Americans refuse to register as telecom operator.