October 3, 2019 / 11:30 AM / 12 days ago

France recruits Dassault Systemes, OVH for alternative to U.S. cloud firms

FILE PHOTO: French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire delivers a speech at the MEDEF union summer forum renamed La Rencontre des Entrepreneurs de France, LaREF, at the Paris Longchamp Racecourse in Paris, France, August 28, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

PARIS (Reuters) - France has enlisted tech companies Dassault Systemes (DAST.PA) and OVH to come up with plans to break the dominance of U.S. 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 U.S. government can obtain data kept on the servers of U.S. companies such as Amazon (AMZN.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O).

“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 (CRTO.O).

“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 U.S. law called the Cloud Act lets any U.S. agency access European corporate data that is stored on the data centres of U.S. 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.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Richard Lough and Mark Potter

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