France to redouble efforts to create EU tech regulator after copyright spat

FILE PHOTO: A Google booth is seen during the China Digital Entertainment Expo and Conference (ChinaJoy) in Shanghai, China August 2, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

PARIS (Reuters) - France is pushing for the creation of a European-wide regulator of digital platforms such as Google to sanction possible abuse of power, a French presidency official said on Tuesday, citing a dispute over EU copyright law as an example.

Google said last month it would stop showing news snippets from European publishers on search results for its French users to comply with a new European copyright law, prompting anger in Paris.

“A big American company, Google namely, has announced it would not comply with an EU copyright directive,” the official told reporters. “France and Germany share the view that... we have to put an end to this illegal behavior.”

France said it would push for the incoming European Commission to create a special status for digital platforms modeled on that in the banking sector, whereby large companies like Google would be deemed “systemic” and regulated as such.

The regulator would be able to slap sanctions and fines on the companies, the French official added, giving more flesh to a proposal President Emmanuel Macron made this year.

“Over the short-term, we would like the European Commission.... to look into whether legal action (against Google) is possible,” the French official said, adding that France and Germany would discuss the issue at a meeting in Toulouse, France on Wednesday.

Reporting by Michel Rose, editing by Ed Osmond