France's Autorite de la Concurrence (French Competition Authority) said on Thursday: “Google’s practices caused a serious and immediate harm to the press sector, while the economic situation of publishers and news agencies is otherwise fragile."
The decision was made after a complaint by unions who represent French publishers, the news agency Reuters reported. In 2019, Google had agreed that its search results would not display news clips from European publishers to French users in keeping with a new copyright regulation.
But this was not deemed sufficient by the French organisations who then made their complaint, resulting in Thursday's preliminary ruling. A more detailed ruling is expected later.
Australia has made moves to regulate digital platforms, and is now in the process of formulating a voluntary code for co-operation between digital platforms and news organisations.
If the ACCC is unable to work out a voluntary code with the digital platforms by November this year, then the government has said it "will develop alternative options which may include the creation of a mandatory code".
However, this process may be delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, which has put many operations on ice.
France has been in the forefront of efforts by European countries to tax digital platforms. In January last year, it hit Google with a with a €50 million (US$56.8 million) fine by the French National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) for violations of the General Data Protection Regulation.
And in July 2019, France announced a 3% tax on technology giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon, with the country's lower house of parliament voting to adopt a law that prevents multinationals from avoiding taxes by setting up headquarters in low-taxing EU countries.