The internet is an ever present in our lives, it shapes how we communicate, how we shop, and in recent months has shown it's incredible power when it comes to helping people coordinate social change. Nothing has more clearly demonstrated the influence of the internet as the revolutions currently sweeping North Africa and the Middle-East.

At the same time as it grows more powerful, the internet is breeding companies that themselves are ever more powerful. Facebook, Google, eBay and many others have grown from bedroom start-up companies to some of the most influential companies in the world in just a few short years.

Now, those companies are taking the French government to court in the latest of a long line of battles surrounding internet privacy. Both Facebook and Google – two of the companies leading the action – have had high profile problems with privacy before and faced severe financial penalties and been forced to overhaul their procedures.

In the upcoming court case, however, the boot is on the other foot. This time the issue is from the government's approach to privacy rather than the companies. A new law requires that companies operating in France keep certain private data on customers or users for at least a year, regardless of whether the individual concerned wants that information to be kept or not.

The repercussions of this are widespread, it opens further questions about the privacy of the information you keep online, as well as potentially providing a procedural nightmare for the likes of Facebook and Google when it comes to separating out their operations in one country from another.

Another argument is that the new law carries implications for website builders who will have to create more powerful data storage systems so that new startups or online merchants could keep the information that they receive. Although this may not seem like such a big deal, it increases the workload, set up cost, and maintenance of any new website and thus may have an impact on small companies across the country.

The chances of Facebook and Google getting the law struck down are somewhat limited, and critics point out that both companies are more than likely to keep customer information for far more than a year. Nonetheless, this is just the latest in a series of battles including domain names, privacy of information, and the possibility of a two-tiered internet to name just a few. For that reason, though this legal action may not be conclusive in the way, it could, nonetheless offer an indicator of how things are going.

Author's Bio: 

Derek Nicholson has been working as a freelance technology writer for three years and takes a special interest in digital marketing. He recommends the website builder tools available on to any aspiring webmasters.