French Authorities Authorize Crackdown On Apple, Other Tech Companies

Apple reported in its 10-K filing that the French Competition Authority believes the company's sales and distribution practices violate competition laws.

The French Competition Authority (FCA) issued the report in June 2019, according to the 10-K filed Thursday.

Apple “vigorously” disputes the allegations, the filing reads. “A hearing of arguments was held before the FCA on October 15, 2019. The Company is awaiting the decision of the FCA, which may include a fine.”

Apple is not the only tech company with challenges in France. Google agreed to pay about $1.1 billion to French authorities in September 2019 after a four-year investigation into whether or not the company failed to report a portion of its tax activities in the country.

Then there’s Teemo, a mobile location-based data company that works with JOANN and other retailers to drive foot traffic into stores.

Teemo last year faced challenges with the French authorities around the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Benoit Grouchko, Teemo CEO, said the company was the first to receive a letter from the French regulator in violation of GDPR. Two months later, the company became the first to become compliant.

“It’s helped us become compliant in Europe and in the U.S.,” Grouchko said. “We worked with them for about a month and a half.”

French regulators sent Teemo a letter and made it public by posting it on their web site about 12 hours after receiving it. The notice explained how Teemo was not compliant with their “interpretation” of GDPR.

“We explained our business model and they told us what they were not comfortable with,” he said. “They wanted us to change two things. The first was around content.”

French regulators wanted Teemo to change the ability to respond to privacy concerns with a “yes” or “no” option to a clear question about if and how the company could share their data.

The second request for change centered on what Grouchko calls “minimization,” the amount of time a company could keep the data and the type of data they could keep.

“We were using the data for 13 months, but not in a granular way,” he said. “We had to break down the data and use certain portions of the data for specific amounts of time. There were different data-retention periods.”

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