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Google, Facebook-Backed Group to Challenge French Data Rules

An industry group backed by Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. plans to challenge French rules over a decree requiring Internet companies to retain user data for a year and to make it available to the authorities.

France’s Association des Services Internet Communautaires will submit a complaint tomorrow to the Conseil d’Etat, the country’s highest court, Secretary General Benoit Tabaka said by phone today. In addition to Google and Facebook, the association’s members include EBay Inc., AOL Inc., Microsoft Corp., and DailyMotion SA., according to its website.

Under a decree published in France’s official legal journal on March 1, Web companies should conserve for one year “data permitting the identification of all persons who have contributed to the creation of content placed online” including Internet protocol addresses, usernames and passwords. France has some of the world’s toughest rules on Internet use, including the “Hadopi” law setting out fines for illegal downloading.

“The data that’s especially sensitive for us is the password,” aid Tabaka, who is also the legal director of French retail site PriceMinister. “For us this is clearly not identification data, but personal data.”

ASIC also believes the European Commission wasn’t properly notified of the decree, he said.

Al Verney, a spokesman for Mountain View, California-based Google, referred questions to ASIC. Andrew Noyes, a spokesman for Palo Alto, California-based Facebook, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

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