The incumbent left-leaning (or lurching) French administration of Francois Hollande has had another fit of pique regarding those fiendish Yankee technology behemoths. This time, instead of Amazon, it’s Google’s turn to suffer the Gallic foot-stamping, as Aurélie Filippetti, French Minister of Culture, boycotted the inauguration of the new Google Cultural Institute in Paris.
“Despite the quality of the projects in progress, I do not want to be used to underwrite a transaction that does not take into account a number of issues we have in dealing with Google,” she said, as reported in Le Monde. These are: “the question of fiscal fairness, the protection of personal data, the protection of cultural diversity and the issue of copyright.”
Google, meanwhile, reported incomprehension at what was apparently a last-minute cancellation without warning, saying that their people had been making preparations with the minister’s team for days before. Nick Leeder, Director General of Google France, pointed to Google’s partnership with some 400 cultural institutions worldwide, including many French bodies. “We are very proud of the opening of the Cultural Institute, which constitutes a significant investment in France for the democratization of cultural access,” he said.
Maybe these tactics are working for the government, though. Francois Hollande’s approval rating among the French public has risen two percentage points, according to Reuters, from an all-time record low of 22 percent in November. Meantime, French voters have answered the call for preservation of French values and the French cultural exception – by making the far-right National Front, which has even more rigidly protectionist and chauvinist policies than the mainstream French parties, France’s most popular party. Clearly, in French politics, it pays to hate the outside world.