Amazon and Apple stay away from French initiative for Big Tech

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Amazon and Apple have not signed up to a brand new French initiative to get global tech firms to publicly commit to fundamentals including paying their fair share of taxes, government officials said on Monday.

French President Emmanuel Macron has hunted for the past three years to cajole tech giants into collaborating with authorities on a string of global challenges such as fighting hate speech on line, preserving solitude or contributing into state coffers.

Amid a public outcry about tech teams’ good fortunes during the coronavirus pandemic this year, Macron’s advisers said that the president had asked tech companies to sign up to a new initiative called “Tech for Good Call” underlining principles for the post-COVID world.

The French government released a list of 75 executives of tech companies that had signed up to the initiative so far, including Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft President Brad Smith.

Apple declined to comment, but French officials said talks with the group were ongoing and they could still join the initiative, details of which will be published officially by Tuesday. A representative for Amazon, which French officials said had declined to join the initiative, did not return a request for comment.

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“The goal is also to… observe objectively those who opt to play ball and align their interest with individuals and societies and those who stay from this joint motion,” a presidential adviser told a press briefing.

Leading tech executives such as Facebook’s Zuckerberg attended the so-called “Tech for Good” summit hosted by the French president at the Elysee Palace in 2018, which gave birth to working groups on issues that have become sources of tension between governments and “Big Tech”.

The new initiative is not legally binding, but French officials said Macron will use it as a tool to influence upcoming negotiations at global forums on regulating Big Tech.

The US and European governments have clashed over the issue of taxing Big Tech during talks at the OECD.

Signatories to the “Tech for Good Call” commit to “contribute quite to the taxes in countries where (they) operate”; prevent the dissemination of “child sexual abuse substance, terrorist or extreme violence online contents”; and “support the ecological transition”, among other things.

The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Michel Rose. Additional reporting by Mathieu Rosemain. Editing by Susan Fenton.

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