Displaying items by tag: France
France's data watchdog (CNIL) announced a fine of 50 million euros ($57 million) for US search giant Google, using the EU's strict General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for the first time.
Google was handed the record fine from the CNIL regulator for failing to provide transparent and easily accessible information on its data consent policies, a statement said. The CNIL said Google made it too difficult for users to understand and manage preferences on how their personal information is used, in particular with regards to targeted advertising.
“People expect high standards of transparency and control from us. We're deeply committed to meeting those expectations and the consent requirements of the GDPR,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “We're studying the decision to determine our next steps.”
The ruling follows complaints lodged by two advocacy groups last May, shortly after the landmark GDPR directive came into effect. One was filed on behalf of some 10,000 signatories by France's Quadrature du Net group, while the other was by None Of Your Business, created by the Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems.
Schrems had accused Google of securing “forced consent” through the use of pop-up boxes online or on its apps which imply that its services will not be available unless people accept its conditions of use.
“Also, the information provided is not sufficiently clear for the user to understand the legal basis for targeted advertising is consent, and not Google's legitimate business interests,” the CNIL said.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz vowed to press ahead with a tax on large internet and technology companies, following France's example, as the European Union struggles to finalize a new EU-wide levy.
France, which is pushing for a new so-called “GAFA tax” is advancing with its own tax to ensure the global giants pay a fair share of taxes on massive business operations in Europe.
“It is only fair that internet giants in Europe pay a proper amount of tax,” Kurz said, according to a statement. ‘In addition to an EU-wide move, we'll also act on a national level. We will introduce a digital tax in Austria.”
Kurz said that EU member states “agree in principle that there is a need for such a tax.” He said Finance Minister Hartwig Loeger was in the process “of working out the details and their implementation and will unveil the basic framework at the beginning of January.” The tax would then come into force as part of the government's planned tax reforms in 2020.
“The aim is clear - to tax companies that generate huge profits online, but pay hardly any tax on them, such as Facebook or Amazon,” Kurz said.
In addition to taxing direct sales, France will also require the companies to pay a levy on advertising revenues, websites and the resale of private data, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced earlier.
Under EU law, US technology titans such as Google and Facebook can choose to report their income in any member state, prompting them to pick low-tax nations like Ireland, the Netherlands or Luxembourg. Such firms, on average, pay a nine-percent levy, compared to 23% for other businesses, according to Margrethe Vestager, the EU competition commissioner.
The low tax rates have caused anger among voters in many European countries, but the 28-member bloc is divided on how to tackle the issue.
Nokia and Inria, a French national research institute dedicated to promoting 'scientific excellence in the service of technology transfer and society as a whole', announced the renewal of their joint lab for a four-year period. The announcement took place during an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of Inria with Marcus Weldon, Nokia CTO and Nokia Bell Labs President, and Antoine Petit, Inria CEO.
"Nokia Bell Labs collaborates with the best academic teams in the world on solving the key technical challenges confronting humankind. Together, Inria and Bell Labs are collaborators and co-pioneers in this endeavor, with a rich and fruitful relationship over the past 20 years,” said Marcus Weldon, Nokia Chief Technical Officer and Nokia Bell Labs President.
“We have even higher expectations and plans for our future collaboration via our common laboratory centered on addressing the fundamental challenges of humans in the future connected world,” Weldon added.
Launched in 2008, the joint lab associates permanent researchers from the two partners with PhD students and postdoctoral researchers, sharing the same strategic vision to solve the key scientific challenges linked to the evolution of networks and network applications. The aim of this joint research is to offer users the benefits from required network and cloud resources for a contextual and personalized experience of the digital connected world.
The future networks will have to manage a multitude of connected objects, to host and interconnect massively distributed functions, to feature an unprecedented agility to support differentiated and demanding use cases like the connected car, industry 4.0, smart city and e-health. This will require strong guarantees in terms of security and privacy, while hiding the complexity through a high level of automation.
To achieve this aim, this new phase of the common lab will associate advanced research in information theory, machine learning, graph theory, game theory, cybersecurity, network virtualization and advanced control software.
The scope of the collaboration covers several research actions dedicated to information theory and algorithms to solve the challenges of IoT; analytics and machine learning to dynamically and automatically optimize the virtualized network; scalable distributed learning and control for augmented intelligence to operate complex IoT networks of dynamic elements; and cybersecurity to provide privacy, data integrity and resilience against intrusions.
"Inria develops the whole scope from research to applications in the area of computer science and applied mathematics. With leading companies, we operate joint labs that are focused on long term cooperation,” said Antoine Petit, Inria CEO.
“With Nokia Bell Labs we develop technologies that will power the future of networks and telecommunication. Our common goal is to produce new scientific results as well as new innovations that can enrich the technologies and products developed by Nokia. It is the DNA of Inria to go from high level research to industrial applications."
Orange Marine, a major player in the laying of new submarine communications cables and the maintenance of existing cables across the world's oceans, France-based Orange Group, has signed a partnership with Euro-Argo, the European branch of a global ocean observation consortium, to provide technical resources to launch free-drifting oceanographic data collection floats along its ships’ routes.
These floats, which have an average lifespan of four years, gather data on ocean temperature and salinity from the surface down to 2,000 m depth. Argo, an international program founded in 2000 by UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and involving over 30 countries, is the first global network for in situ ocean observation.
The network is gradually expanding, and currently counts a total of nearly 4,000 active floats, with an average of 1,000 deployed each year worldwide. The cable ship Pierre de Fermat launched the first float North of Cape Finisterre (Spain) during a maintenance operation in September. A second float was launched 500 nautical miles away, in the Azores region. A third float is still on board the ship, ready to be deployed.
The data from the floats are sent in real-time via satellite to a platform opened to researchers from around the world, enabling them to study the state of the world’s oceans and better understand their influence on climate change, and vice-versa.
The deployment strategy aims at providing homogeneous float coverage across the globe, so Euro-Argo is looking for opportunities to launch floats from vessels including dedicated research ships, racing sail boats, commercial ships, and more.
“This partnership with Euro-Argo fits perfectly with our environmental commitment at Orange Marine. We are thrilled that launching floats in areas with sparse coverage can make it possible to collect data that can help researchers to better understand oceans and climate change,” said Julie Zarade, Quality, Safety, and Environment Coordinator at Orange Marine.
France is leading a push to increase the taxation of tech giants in Europe, backed by Germany, Italy and Spain. The countries’ finance ministers said in a joint letter that they want multinational technology companies like Google and Amazon to be taxed based on their revenues in Europe, rather than only profits as now.
Other European nations have expressed their support for the tax change, Reuters reported, because of the low tax they receive under the current international rules. Some nations are missing out on their share because tech giants are often taxed on profits booked by subsidiaries in Ireland, a low-tax haven, even though the revenue generated came from other EU countries.
In the letter written by the four European finance ministers it says, “We should no longer accept that these companies do business in Europe while paying minimal amounts of tax to our treasuries.”
The letter, seen by Reuters, was sent to the European Union’s Estonian presidency with the bloc’s executive Commission in copy. It was written by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, Wolfgang Schaeuble of Germany, Pier-Carlo Padoan of Italy, and Luis de Guindos of Spain.
In the letter the ministers express the need to create an “equalization tax” on turnover that would bring taxation to the level of corporate tax in the country where the revenue was generated. The ministers said, “The amounts raised would aim to reflect some of what these companies should be paying in terms of corporate tax.”
The ministers will reportedly present their case to other EU counterparts at a meeting in Tallinn from Sept. 12-16. A discussion has been scheduled by the EU’s current Estonian presidency to consider the concept of “permanent establishment” with the goal of being able to tax companies on where they generate their revenue, not only where they have their tax residence.
France has faced setbacks trying to obtain payments for taxes on tech giants’ activities in the country, hence its move to put pressure on the EU to change tax rules. In July a French court ruled that Alphabet’s Google should pay 1.1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in back taxes because it has no “permanent establishment” in France but ran its operations there from Ireland.
France’s Orange Group confirmed profits of more than that achieved in 2016 on a comparable basis in its Q2 2017 financial results. It was the first time the company has returned to profit in France since 2009. Orange said the strong results were driven by strong commercial momentum by investment and continuing efforts on the transformation of the cost structure.
“The acceleration seen in the Group’s growth was confirmed by the first-half results, and in particular the performance in the second quarter, driven by France, Europe and Africa and the Middle East,” said Orange Group Chairman and CEO Stephane Richard. “In France, we returned to growth for the first time since 2009.”
Richard added that Orange’s performance in Spain, and more generally across Europe, was “excellent” with strong revenue growth underpinned by a significant increase in high-speed broadband customers.
“The strategy that we have been following for several quarters, which centered on giving customers an unbeatable experience through convergence around the home and a quality network, is now yielding results,” he said.
“We have converted more than half of our revenue increase into EBITDA, demonstrating a good balance of growth and profitability. This has enabled us to reaffirm our objective of delivering growth in adjusted EBITDA for the full year 2017,” Richard added.
The company also strengthened its content offering in the first half of the year through the creation of Orange Content and the signing of a number of agreements with prestigious partners such as Canal+, its historic partner, and HBO. Richard said the company remains convinced that content is an effective tool for improving its offerings and keeping customers loyal while protecting value.
Orange’s revenues were 20.276 billion euros in the first half of 2017, an increase of 1.1% (+222 million euros) following an increase of 0.9% in the 2nd half of 2016 (+188 million euros).
The improved trend in the 2nd quarter was principally tied to the recovery in the Africa & Middle East segment, a continued strong performance in Spain and the return to growth in France for the first time since 2009.
The Group had operating income of 2.434 billion euros in the 1st half of 2017, an increase of 293 million euros compared with the 1st half of 2016. Operating income from the telecom activities was 2.462 billion euros, an increase of 321 million euros.
Net income was 830 million euros in the 1st half of 2017, compared with 3.323 billion euros in the 1st half of 2016. The decrease of 2.493 billion euros between the two periods was mainly linked to the impact of the sale of EE in January 2016. Net income from continuing operations declined 244 million euros. Excluding the impact of a charge related to the shareholding held in the BT Group (-349 million euros), net income from continuing operations improved 105 million euros.
French telecom giant Orange hosted the Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology, HE Eng. Yasser ElKady, at its facilities in Paris, France, from July 17-18. Orange hosted the Minister to reinforce its presence in Egypt – a presence of “utmost importance” for Orange’s future development in Africa and the Middle East.
The Minister was welcomed by the Egyptian Ambassador in Paris, Ehab Badawi and by Jean-Marc Harion, CEO of Orange Egypt. He also met with several members of the Group’s Executive Committee including Bruno Mettling (Orange Group Deputy CEO; Chairman and CEO of Orange Middle East & Africa), and Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière (Orange Group Senior Executive Vice-President of Innovation, Marketing and Technologies).
“We are honored to host his Excellency Engineer Yasser Al-Kady at the Orange Group’s headquarters in Paris. The Group’s presence in Egypt is of utmost importance to our future development in Africa and the Middle East, and we have great confidence in the potential for development within the Egyptian economy,” said Mr. Mettling.
“This visit also reflects the Orange Group’s willingness to work with the Egyptian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology in order to strengthen cooperation between our two countries in a context that encourages foreign investment.”
The Minister visited Orange’s flagship smart store in central Paris and the Group’s innovation campus, Orange Gardens. The emblematic smart store was opened in November 2016 and showcases the Group's approach to customer experience, which is a key element of its strategy.
He also visited the Group’s new innovation campus in Chatillon, Orange Gardens, which was inaugurated in June 2016 by the former French President François Hollande. The 72,000m² eco-friendly site brings together more than 3,000 employees across all areas of research and innovation.
The campus was conceived to foster new ways of working to increase Orange’s innovation capabilities and better interact with the Group’s other innovation centers across the globe. During the visit, the Minister was able to witness first-hand the latest advances made by Orange as it prepares for the future launch of 5G networks.
The Minister also attended meetings organized with senior managers on topics such as opportunities for telecom operators in the fields of mobile money, energy or m-agriculture. Exchanges were also held on the Group’s efforts to support start-ups, notably through Orange Digital Ventures, as well on topics related to the B2B market including smart cities and cyber-defense.
As a result of the meetings, Orange is contemplating leveraging the opportunities offered by new technology zones, including in Assyut, to install customer service centers. Also, as part of the Orange Group's interest in supporting emerging, innovative companies, it was agreed to support and fund technology-focused start-ups in Egypt to help them to transform their ideas into reality while creating a sustainable business model.
US technology colossus and global search engine giant Google has avoided paying a whopping €1.1 billion tax bill in France after a Parisian court ruled in its favour. The court’s decision was a welcome reprieve for the Californian based entity, as the ruling comes just weeks after Google was fined by the European Commission (EC).
Google’s legal row in relation to this tax bill has dragged on for six years, but a Parisian administrative tribunal ruled that Google was not liable to pay five years worth of back taxes which was being sought by France’s tax authorities. The tribunal found that Google’s advertising saes business had no taxable presence in the country.
The Wall Street has claimed that the French court’s decision could have implications for the other tax battles that Google are currently embroiled in Europe and other parts of the world. In its summary of its findings, the Parisian court concluded that Google did not illegally evade French tax by routing sales in the country through the Republic of Ireland. Google’s European headquarters is in Ireland - and they ruled that Google could not be taxed if it also has a permanent base in France.
Google reiterated its commitment to France by vowing to support the growth of its digital economy. In a statement issued by the US firm, which employs 700 people in France – they suggested that the decision by the court confirms that it abides by French tax law and international standards. The statement read, “We remain committed to France and the growth of its digital economy.”
However, France’s Minister of Public Action and Accounts, Gerald Darmanin, claimed that the tax authority may yet appeal the decision made by the administrative panel. In the meantime, the court’s decisions eased recent pressure on Google across Europe. The European Commission fined the organization €2.4 billion a fortnight ago, it said it abused its market dominance as a search engine, and illegally promoted its own shopping comparison website.
In addition to this, reports have circulated that the EU may fine Google over its Android operating system, which last year was accused of stifling innovation and market competition by the EU competition commissioner.
A number of other European countries have also attempted to claim back taxes from Google. In Spain, authorities raided Google’s offices in 2016, while the company also agreed to pay €306 million in Italian back taxes earlier this year.
French telecom giant Orange announced it has launched the sell-down of approximately 133 million shares that its subsidiary Atlas Services Belgium owns in BT, representing around 1.33 % of the share capital of BT, through a private placement by way of an accelerated bookbuilt offering.
BT will acquire up to GBP 200m in the placement of BT shares, part of which for the benefit of its Employee Share Ownership Trust, at the placement price. Such order will be fully allocated by Orange.
Simultaneously, Orange announced it has launched an offering of bonds exchangeable into BT shares due 2021 for a nominal amount of approximately GBP 520 million, at a premium of 35% to 40% above the share placement price carried out by way of a private placement.
Orange would initially retain a 2.66% stake in BT. In case of exercise in full of the exchange rights underlying the bonds, Orange would retain a 1.33% stake in BT.
The exchangeable bonds, with a maturity of 4 years (except in the case of early redemption), are issued in GBP. They will bear a coupon between 0% and 0.375% and will have negative interest rate after hedging in euros. They will be offered at an issue price of between 100.5 % and 100 % of the principal amount, corresponding to an annual yield to maturity of between -0.125 % and 0.375 %.
The exchangeable bonds are expected to be issued in principal amounts of GBP 100,000 per bond and will be redeemed at par at maturity (except in the case of early redemption).The holders of exchangeable bonds may exercise their exchange right at any time from 7 August 2017 until the 55th calendar day before the maturity date of the bonds. Orange will have the flexibility to settle in cash, deliver ordinary shares of BT or a combination thereof.
The underlying exchange property (being initially only BT shares) will be subject to customary adjustment upon the occurrence of certain corporate events pursuant to the terms and conditions of the bonds.
The final terms of the placement and of the exchangeable bonds issue are expected to be announced on 20 June 2017 at the latest. Settlement for the placement of the BT shares and the exchangeable bonds issue are expected to take place on 22 June 2017 and 27 June 2017 respectively. An application will be made for the exchangeable bonds to be admitted to trading on the Marché Libre d’Euronext Paris.
Orange will agree to a 90-day lock up for its remaining shareholding in BT, subject to waiver from the joint bookrunners and certain exceptions, in particular the possibility to sell BT shares to a strategic investor (provided that this investor agrees to be bound by a similar lock-up commitment) or to monetize scrip dividend.
The proceeds of these transactions will be used for the general corporate purposes of Orange.
The placement of the shares and the exchangeable bonds issue are targeted at eligible institutional and qualified investors. The definitive terms will be determined following the completion of the accelerated bookbuilding process. There will be no public offering in any country.
French telecom group Orange is strengthening its corporate venture strategy by creating a new Africa section in its flagship program for investment in startups, Orange Digital Ventures. As part of this initiative, the Group is committing 50 million euros corresponding to half of the direct investments made via its new Orange Digital Ventures Africa program; the other half is devoted to indirect investments through specialized funding for Africa.
Orange Digital Ventures Africa is the Group’s investment vehicle for early-stage innovation projects in Africa in areas such as new connectivities, FinTech, the Internet of Things, energy and e-health. The objective is to target startups offering responses to Africa’s fundamental challenges while leveraging the operator’s assets on the continent. This support will concern all innovative startups, whether they are based geographically in Africa or they address African issues from another continent.
A dedicated team based in Dakar, Senegal will be set up next September for the program in order to respond to the startups’ need for responsiveness and simplicity. This new initiative underlines Orange’s commitment in Africa, a growth territory where currently nearly one of every ten inhabitants is an Orange customer, and its determination to always be a cutting-edge player in digital ecosystems.
It supports Orange’s existing open innovation initiatives in Africa, such as the Orange Fabs in Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Senegal and BIG in Jordan to facilitate partnerships with the start-ups; the network of partner incubators such as CTIC in Dakar; the availability of Orange APIs on the continent; and the Orange Social Venture Prize recognizing social entrepreneurs in Africa.
“Since the beginning of Orange Digital Ventures, the new services and business models in Africa have been one of the priority investment themes of our corporate venture business,” said Pierre Louette, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Orange and Chairman of Orange Digital Ventures. “With this announcement, we are engaging a bit further alongside the African digital ecosystem, which like everywhere else and maybe even more than elsewhere carries with it a development challenge.”