Thursday, March 14, 2013

France goes after Skype

French telecomm regulators are repeating their demand that Skype register as a "communications operator" under French law.  Registration would impose a range of legal obligations on the network, including developing mechanisms to allow "emergency calls" from non-subscribers, and to provide means of intercepting and recording calls "when legally required." 
   Skype, now owned by Microsoft, has continually responded that its services do not constitute "electronic communications services" as defined under French law, and thus it is not required to register as a provider of such services.  The French regulator, ARCEP, seems to be arguing that providing voice services "implies" it is a public telephone service, and thus it must register and comply with French law.  Including, according to an ARCEP spokesman, compelling it to declare its revenues to local and national tax authorities, and subjecting Skype to paying local taxes.

French telecom and mobile operators have raised concerns that they are losing revenues as consumers switch to various VoIP services (including Skype, Viber, and What's App).  Part of their complaint is that they must bear regulatory burdens and costs (particularly taxes) that other operators have not had to face.  France was also one of the countries pushing for new international Internet governance agreements in last years ITU meetings, as a means of allowing nations a legal foundation for regulating and taxing major global internet firms.  France also recently challenged Google, claiming Google News was anti-competitive by not paying for linking to content from French news sites.  Google allegedly offered to block all French news sites before the issue was quietly resolved.

Source -  French authorities launch Skype probeComputer Business Review
France Wants Skype To Pay Tax: Microsoft Says "Screw You,"  Silicon Angle

edit - fixed what had been a run on sentence about France & Google.

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