France looks for alternative to US cloud firms

Paris is eager to build up a capacity to store sensitive data in France amid concerns the US government can obtain data kept on the servers of US companies such as Amazon and Microsoft. (AFP File Photo for Representation)

France has enlisted tech companies Dassault Systemes and OVH to come up with plans to break the dominance of US companies in cloud computing, its finance minister said on Thursday.

Paris is eager to build up a capacity to store sensitive data in France amid concerns the US government can obtain data kept on the servers of US companies such as Amazon and Microsoft.

"We have asked Dassault Systemes and OVH as well to work on this and we will have the first results in December 2019," Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told a conference at French online ad company Criteo.

"Based on these results, we want to build a trustworthy cloud to store our companies' most sensitive data," he said, adding the project would be done at the Franco-German level at first and possibly at the European level later.

Dassault Systemes is a French software company and OVH is a privately held French cloud computing company.

Paris is concerned a 2018 US law called the Cloud Act lets any US agency access European corporate data that is stored on the data centres of US companies without telling them.

"It's totally unacceptable," Le Maire said, adding a solution needed to be found urgently between Washington and the European Union.

Le Maire said France would invest 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) by 2020 in artificial intelligence (AI), with 600 million in research and 800 million in seed-money and funds for bringing AI projects to market.

The money will come from an innovation fund financed by the sell off of state assets, starting with the sale of a stake in French lottery monopoly la Francaise des Jeux "in the coming weeks", he said.

($1 = 0.9128 euros)

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