France: Foreign takeover of AI and data companies might require governmental approval

12 Jan 2018

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has announced plans to introduce regulations requiring that any foreign takeover of French companies working in the field of data and artificial intelligence (AI) is first approved by the government. Current rules, adopted in 2014, provide that foreign companies have to seek for permission from the French authorities before taking over firms in the sectors of energy, transport, water, and health. According to Le Maire, adding data and AI to this list would be in line with economic trends and ensure better protection of personal data: 'I‘m thinking of everything dealing with personal data. Do we really want investors to market our data? I‘m thinking about artificial intelligence, a very sensitive sector that we want more investment in.'

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Privacy and data protection are two interrelated Internet governance issues. Data protection is a legal mechanism that ensures privacy. Privacy is usually defined as the right of any citizen to control their own personal information and to decide about it (to disclose information or not). Privacy is a fundamental human right. It is recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and in many other international and regional human rights conventions. The July 2015 appointment of the first UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age reflects the rising importance of privacy in global digital policy, and the recognition of the need to address privacy rights issues the the global, as well as national levels.

Historically, telecommunications, broadcasting, and other related areas were separate industry segments; they used different technologies and were governed by different regulations.


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