Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has warned that Google and Facebook are becoming too big to be governed and could face being dismantled.
Internet giants could be forced to pay for the disruption they cause in society and submit to French or European privacy regulations, he suggested.
In an interview with the magazine Wired, the president warned that artificial intelligence (AI) would challenge democracy and open a Pandora’s box of privacy issues.
He was speaking after announcing a €1.5bn investment in artificial intelligence research to accelerate innovation and catch up with China and the US.
Mr Macron said companies such as Google and Facebook were welcome in France, brought jobs and were “part of our ecosystem”.
But he warned:
“They have a very classical issue in a monopoly situation; they are huge players. At a point of time – but I think it will be a US problem, not a European problem – at a point of time, your government, your people, may say, ‘Wake up. They are too big.’
“Not just too big to fail, but too big to be governed. Which is brand new.
“So at this point, you may choose to dismantle. That’s what happened at the very beginning of the oil sector when you had these big giants. That’s a competition issue.”
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said he was open to governments regulating tech companies.
“[The] question isn’t ‘Should there be regulation or shouldn’t there be?’ – it’s ‘How do you do it?’” Mr Zuckerberg said.
At the start of this year, billionaire investor and Democrat-beloved Nazi collaborator, George Soros added his voice to a chorus calling for major technology firms to be reined in, calling Google and Facebook monopolies in need of regulation.
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