Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has warned that Google and Facebook are becoming too big to be governed and could face being dismantled.
Internet giants could be forced to pay for the disruption they cause in society and submit to French or European privacy regulations, he suggested.
In an interview with the magazine Wired, the president warned that artificial intelligence (AI) would challenge democracy and open a Pandora’s box of privacy issues.
He was speaking after announcing a €1.5bn (£1.32bn) investment in artificial intelligence research to accelerate innovation and catch up with China and the US.
Mr Macron said companies such as Google and Facebook were welcome in France, brought jobs and were “part of our ecosystem”.
But he warned: “They have a very classical issue in a monopoly situation; they are huge players. At a point of time – but I think it will be a US problem, not a European problem – at a point of time, your government, your people, may say, ‘Wake up. They are too big.’