This follows complaints from French press editors that Google has failed to speak in good faith with them to find a deal.

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French antitrust investigators have accused Alphabet Inc.’s Google of failing to comply with national competition authority orders on how to conduct negotiations with publishers of copyright information, two said. sources who read the investigators’ report.

In the 93-page report, known as the Statement of Objections, investigators wrote that Google’s non-compliance was of an exceptionally serious nature, the sources said.

This follows complaints from French press editors that Google has failed to speak in good faith with them to find a deal. The same publishers were not part of the three-year, $ 76 million deal signed between the U.S. company and a group of 121 publications, as Reuters reported earlier this month.

The deal was touted as a major breakthrough by both Google and the publishers who signed it, but infuriated many posts.

The French competition authority can impose fines of up to 10% of turnover on companies that it considers to be in violation of its rules. Google’s annual sales were around $ 183 billion in 2020.

The investigation report is a key part of the authority’s sanctioning process, but it is up to the supervisory board, headed by Isabelle de Silva, to decide whether to impose a sanction.

The biggest sanction ever imposed by the French antitrust authority was imposed on iPhone maker Apple Inc last year, with a fine of 1.1 billion euros ($ 1.34 billion) for anti-competitive behavior towards its distribution and retail network.

A spokesperson for the competition authority declined to comment.

Read also | French watchdog fines Apple $ 1.2 billion

In response to a Reuters request for comment, Google said in a statement: “Our priority is to comply with the law and continue to negotiate in good faith with publishers, as evidenced by the agreements we have made with publishers. publishers in recent years. months. “

“We will now review the statement of objections and will work in close collaboration with the French competition authority,” he said.

The French report on Google’s trading tactics comes at a time when countries around the world are pushing US internet giants such as Google and Facebook Inc to share more revenue with news publishers. The matter gained international attention this week when Facebook banned all news from its services in Australia on a bill there that would impose arbitration.

According to the two sources, French investigators claim that Google did not comply with the watchdog’s demands to enter into negotiations with the publishers within three months and provide all the data the watchdog felt it had. need.

The publishers lobby that signed the deal with Google, APIG, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. French news agency AFP and another media pressure group, SEPM – which did not sign a deal with Google – did not respond to requests for comment.

Reuters struck its own global deal with Google in January on terms that were not made public.

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