EU Parliament Wants To Break Up Google… Because It's Big & American Or Something

from the gotta-any-better-reason? dept

On Friday, the Financial Times broke the story that the European Parliament is going to call for breaking up Google. Of course, the European Parliament can’t actually do that, but it appears designed to put pressure on the EU Commission, which has been talking about antitrust actions against Google for quite some time. While it had looked like there was a settlement earlier this year, those plans more or less appeared to fall apart. Just recently, we wrote about efforts to force Google to change some of its search results in Europe — and noted how problematic it gets when governments start telling search engines how to program their algorithms.

But, actually breaking up Google would go a hell of a lot further. The idea had been floated earlier this year by a top German official, but who would have thought anyone would take it seriously.

And here’s the thing: as far as I can tell, there isn’t any real reason for trying to break up Google, other than the fact that it’s very big and very not European.

There’s no discussion about any actual harm… just the fact that some people don’t like the fact that the company is so big (and not European):

Since his nomination to be the EU?s digital commissioner, Germany?s G?nther Oettinger has suggested hitting Google with a levy for displaying copyright-protected material; has raised the idea of forcing its search results to be neutral; and voiced concerns about its provision of software for cars.

Google has become a lightning rod for European concerns over Silicon Valley, with consumers, regulators and politicians assailing the company over issues ranging from its commercial dominance to its privacy policy. It has reluctantly accepted the European Court of Justice?s ruling on the right to be forgotten, which requires it to consider requests not to index certain links about people?s past.

If they were alleging real consumer harm, that would be one thing, but no one seems to be discussing that.

The NY Times has more details on the expected resolution, which talks about “unbundling” Google’s various other services from the search engine:

The language in the draft resolution calling for the break up of powerful search engines does not attack Google directly. Instead, according to a version seen by The New York Times, the resolution calls on the European Commission ?to consider proposals with the aim of unbundling search engines from other commercial services? to introduce more competition into online search in Europe.

The resolution was written by Andreas Schwab, a member of the center-right European People?s Party from Germany, where powerful publishing groups have strongly campaigned for measures to rein in Google?s market power.

If true, then it seems that Microsoft — one of the leading drivers behind antitrust actions in Europe — may have shot itself in the foot here, since it, too, is a “search engine” that has plenty of other “commercial services.”

While I do think antitrust is an important tool in stopping abusive monopolistic powers that block out any and all competition, it seems only reasonable that you should at least have to show some sort of actual consumer harm. Furthermore, it’s difficult to see how this plan would actually do what its backers seem to want to accomplish. Breaking up Google, if it can even be done realistically, doesn’t magically lead to more search engines in the market. There are lots of upstart search engines out there trying — we hear about new ones all the time. And they’re not, in any way, “blocked” by Google. So what would this move do other than punish Google for being successful?

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Companies: google, microsoft

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Comments on “EU Parliament Wants To Break Up Google… Because It's Big & American Or Something”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Demand vs Desire

has raised the idea of forcing its search results to be neutral

If governments and others really wanted Google’s search results to be neutral, they wouldn’t keep trying to force them to show certain results over others, or not show other results at all.

Their definition of neutral is ‘What we want them to display and nothing else’.

Anonymous Coward says:

My question is: In this hypothetical world where Google breaks off its search from other services, would this not require Google to start charging for all the free services that are paid for by ad money from, primarily, the search business?

They’d basically be killing Google’s other services or at least making Google charge for what are currently free services. How would any of that be consumer-friendly for their European constituents?

Oh right, those people don’t matter.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

They don’t want to be consumer friendly. Governments only care about one thing, creating monopolies and limiting competition so that politicians can feed their wallets from the monopolists that pay them. Just like with everything else whenever government acts it’s often to stifle competition and harm consumers in favor of a few elite that grease the palms of politicians.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Wow. I just went back and looked and found I hit six “insightful”s in just this thread. That’s like enough agreement to found a new political party.

I like “Procrastinators” as a name for it (“Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow or (even better) next week”) as the name for it but that’s probably not going to pull in many supporters, so I’m not too wedded to it.

I do insist I will not be the Candidate, but I’ll happily serve as the power behind the throne.

So, shall we do this? You can make out your cheques payable to me here: …

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I fully intend to sign up, and since I almost certainly won’t ever get around to doing it I’m obviously qualified for membership. Of course, if I actually put in the effort and do sign up, I’m probably not the sorta guy you’re looking for. Man, “Procrastinators” seems even harder to join than “Anarchists United.”

Screw it, I’m voting a straight “Paradox Party” ticket in the next election… although that’s probably counterproductive in more ways than I can imagine.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Wait, what?

Yeah, but it’s not European!

and considering what virtually all [European] IT companies create I have only 2 words for it: Thank god!

Okay, but I think you’re a goof. Ever heard of Linus Torvalds? Alan Cox? How about CERN and Tim Berners-Lee? Alan Turing? Minitel?

Methinks you’re limited by that mono-culture you’ve surrounded yourself with.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Wait, what?

Linus Torvalds: Created Linux, an OS that never got above 1% market share for decades until an American company (Google) found a way to build an interface on it that doesn’t suck. Outside of Android, it still has below 1% market share.

Alan Cox: Created Smalltalk, whose market share makes Linux look like a killer app. It was highly influential in the development of Objective-C, which, likewise, no one ever used, until an American company (Apple) made it the new standard. Outside of the Apple ecosystem, which crams Objective-C down all of the iDiots’ throats, there is still nobody using Objective-C for anything.

Tim Berners-Lee: Created HTML, which nobody used until an American company (Netscape) created a useful interface to it. Then it became a massive worldwide phenomenon, so the guy gets some credit; at least he designed a halfway decent product that became popular with a bit of outside marketing and exposure.

Alan Turing: Did a bunch of research that duplicated the work of an American researcher (Alonzo Church). Church’s work is generally considered to be of higher quality, but somehow Turing is the one everyone remembers.

Minitel: Never heard of it. A bit of Googling turns up that it was a really big BBS system that was popular for a while before the World Wide Web came around and made it obsolete. (See Netscape, above.)

Sorry, but the guy’s got a point.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Wait, what?

Linus Torvalds: Created Linux, an OS that never got above 1% market share for decades …


Torvalds created a version of Unix which would run on “toy computers.” Unix(tm) was created by a couple of guys (AT&T Bell Labs “Graybeards”) who wanted to run a game on a new computer that had been recently acquired. It’s a server operating system and software developer’s platform. Unix(tm) used to include many flavors of Unix which ran on “big iron” servers sold by many hardware suppliers. The Unix market was huge. You didn’t see it on the boss’s desk running on his toy computer. You saw it running on the monsters upstairs in the server room doing real work at blistering speed while blanketing the planet with transparent connectivity.

Do you think those toy OSs even knew the Internet existed when they were released? No. TCP/IP functionality was a freeware “bolt-on” after the fact. The things couldn’t even protect themselves from email delivered malware!

Torvalds created a non-Unix(tm) version that ran on “toy computers” as those things finally began to be shipped with enough oomph to be able to run a real server OS.

Guess what’s inside all those iDiots’ toy computers? BSD Unix! Guess where Microsoft is planning to go in future versions of its toy computer OS? Unix!

Guess where Ultrix, SunOS, Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, OSF-1/True64, … are now? Dead, because Linux obsoleted them.

I thank my lucky stars every day for being alive while all this was happening. It’s been a truly mind blowing experience.

Lots of concepts are too advanced for mere pedestrians to grasp. They don’t have the necessary specialized knowledge to leverage it, nor does it even interest them. That’s why they need people like us, and that is what creates a market for our skills. I don’t want you to have to use Linux. I do love the fact that I can. Before Linus, that wasn’t even an option, and I assure you I was looking for one when he showed up. I almost fell for Minix. I almost bought an already obsolete NeXT from my then sysadmin.

Linux let me do it on a garden variety “Beige Box” tower 80386 with a 40 Mb hard drive, 4 Mb RAM, 1.44 Mb floppy, a 1 Mb video card, and a 9600 BPS (real Baud!) modem.

Glorious! Snoopy dance!

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Wait, what?

Well, as a programmer, I don’t have nearly as much respect for Unix as you do. I believe that the highest virtue in coding is clarity, whereas Unix saddled a good portion of the world with a culture of intentional obfuscation. (“UNIX is basically a simple operating system, but you have to be a genius to understand the simplicity.”)

The problem isn’t that it’s “too advanced for mere pedestrians to grasp;” it’s that a lot of it is too advanced for *NIX wizards to grasp! When Eric freaking Raymond himself posted a blog post about running into some serious printing problems, he later reported:

The really interesting part was how many of the letters said, in effect, “Gee. And all this time I thought it was just me…”

As one blogger mentioned in response to this:

The “I thought I was the only one” letters that Raymond found so interesting aren’t coming from the [mere pedestrian]-set; they’re coming from Linux geeks who read essays written by Eric Raymond. And they’re frustrated by open source software’s terrible usability. The problem isn’t just that [mere pedestrians] can’t use desktop Linux — the problem is that even Linux geeks have trouble figuring it out.

(Emphasis added)

UNIX is a horrible system, and simply because it’s less horrible than all of the other things it obsoleted doesn’t change that fact. Not to mention that if it wasn’t for UNIX, we would never have been saddled with the C language (created specifically to build UNIX) and the myriad buffer overflow vulnerabilities that have plagued the Internet ever since the Morris Worm. Tony Hoare called NULL “the billion-dollar mistake,” but by his scale, how many billions worth of mistake is C (and C++ and every other abomination that sprang from its roots)?

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Wait, what?

[I hope you get insightful votes out the yingyang for this, ’cause it is really fun to read here!]

I believe that the highest virtue in coding is clarity

“Poor programmers can write spaghetti code in any language” (or something like that).

I love perl. It’s fantastically powerful. Positively Eclectic Rubbish Lister. You can also write absolutely impenetrable, unmaintainable crap with it (“Job for life” stuff). Blame the language, or blame the programmer?

Java! Cobol! Lisp! WTF?

Me, I see tools. A good practitioner will use them to create good stuff which makes problems go away never to be seen again. Charlatans see opportunity for lifelong employment as long as nobody can figure out what’s wrong with their code. *nix was brilliant for collapsing everything into “it’s just a file.” You can write a “filter” for that file’s output, pipe that through another filter to do whatever else needs to be done to it, … and eventually you find data transformed into information; something which people can actually use.

This’s why we need to care, so they don’t need to care. 🙂 It’s why I care.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Wait, what?

The actual quote is “Real Programmers can write FORTRAN in any language.” It’s from a satirical article poking fun at the “macho” attitudes of people who act like writing ‘close to the metal’ makes them a good developer.

And yes, “everything is a file” was definitely a good idea. But as a developer, surely you’re well aware of the distinction between a bad idea and a good idea implemented badly, even when the result is crap in both cases? 😉

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Wait, what?

No, you’re not getting off that easily; no apologies. 🙂

… whereas Unix saddled a good portion of the world with a culture of intentional obfuscation. (“UNIX is basically a simple operating system, but you have to be a genius to understand the simplicity.”)

“Unix is basicially a very friendly system. It’s just particular about who its friends are.”

It assumes its users want to learn “the correct way” to use it. C is the same philosophy. Yeah, you could use it to write crap, but you don’t have to. perl is the same. Just because some people use it to write crap is no reason to damn the language.

“… the problem is that even Linux geeks have trouble figuring it out.”
Welcome to the bleeding edge. Nobody guaranteed it would be easy. With power comes responsibility.

I tell people “don’t even go there. That’s my job.” Their job is to expect me (and you) to watch their backs, because they haven’t the time to deal with geeky minutia like this.

This is why sysadmins live – to protect users from what they don’t know might hurt them!

Have fun! 🙂

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Wait, what?

Just because some people use it to write crap is no reason to damn the language.

Sure, and I don’t for that reason. My reason is because people who have taken the time to learn it right keep making the same mistakes anyway.

34 years ago, Tony Hoare gave a very interesting, and somewhat prophetic, Turing Award lecture. He talks about his work on ALGOL compilers, and one of the things he said has been on my mind recently:

In that design I adopted certain basic principles that I believe to be as valid today as they were back then. The first principle was security: The principle that every syntactically incorrect program should be rejected by the compiler and that every syntactically correct program should give a result or an error message that was predictable and comprehensible in terms of the source language program itself. Thus no core dumps should ever be necessary. It was logically impossible for any source language program to cause the computer to run wild, either at compile time or at run time.

A consequence of this principle is that every occurrence of every subscript of every subscripted variable was on every occasion checked at run time against both the upper and the lower declared bounds of the array. Many years later we asked our customers whether they wished us to provide an option to switch off these checks in the interest of efficiency on production runs. Unanimously, they urged us not to—they already knew how frequently subscript errors occur on production runs where failure to detect them could be disastrous. I note with fear and horror that even in 1980, language designers and users have not learned this lesson.

He said this in 1980, about work he had done in 1960, so this was known and understood to be a good idea as far back as 50 years ago. But, of course, the programming community in general didn’t listen. Several years later, the consequences came back to bite us, in the form of the Morris Worm.

It rampaged throughout the fledgling Internet of the day, crashing an estimated 10% of all systems connected to the Internet by exploiting buffer overruns in a handful of specific UNIX programs. The author, a sleazebag by the name of Robert Morris, later claimed that he just wanted to find a way to “count the number of computers on the Internet,” but his actions put the lie to that statement. He encrypted the Worm and used rootkit techniques to hide it from the file system, and he released it from a different university than the one he attended, in an attempt to cover his tracks. A person who believes they aren’t doing anything wrong doesn’t try to hide what they’re doing, and comments in his original source code make it clear that his intention was anything but benign; he was trying to build what we call a botnet today.

And all because of buffer exploits in a handful of C programs. That really should have put us all on notice. Hoare was right, and in any sane world, the C language would have been dead by 1990. But it didn’t happen, and those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it, so once the Internet started becoming a big thing among the general public, in the early 2000s, we ended up with a bunch of new worms that snuck into Windows systems through buffer exploits. Remember Slammer? Blaster? Code Red?

Hoare was right. We should have listened.

But we didn’t, and now we get stuff like Heartbleed. Every few weeks, we get new security patches coming out for major software, fixing buffer overrun vulnerabilities. We get the same problems popping up over and over and over again, not because someone didn’t learn how to do it the right way, but because someone who did know… was human, and made a mistake.

The guy responsible for the Heartbleed vulnerability isn’t a bad programmer. Have a look at the commit where the bug was introduced. See if you can find the problem without being told where it is.

It’s clear that this is not the work of an incompetent n00b; this is someone who really knows his way around the language. But he made a mistake, and it’s a subtle enough one that most people, even knowing beforehand that that changeset contains a severe bug and knowing what class of bug it is (a buffer exploit vulnerability) won’t be able to find it.

To err is human, to forgive divine, but to continue to make the same error and willfully refuse to learn from it… that’s unforgivable. At least not by a non-divine mere mortal such as myself. And when a mistake can have consequences of this magnitude, that’s also unforgivable. That puts the language, which forgives such mistakes all to easily, fundamentally at odds with reality vis a vis human nature. That means something’s gotta give, and it’s not going to be reality… and this is what happens when it does.

Remember when Steve Jobs died, the minor kerfuffle over Richard Stallman’s quoting Chicago Mayor Harold Washington WRT the corrupt former Mayor Daley: “I’m not glad he’s dead, but I’m glad he’s gone”? It was just a few days later that Dennis Ritchie, the creator of C, died, and that’s exactly how I felt about him. As one of my former coworkers put it, Ritchie’s true legacy to the world is the buffer overflow.

There’s really no excuse left for C, other than inertia. (Which, if you recall, is ultimately what ran the Titanic into that iceberg.) Can we let it and its entire misbegotten family die already? It’s 25 years overdue for its own funeral.

And WRT your snark in the next post, it’s worth noting that at the time the Morris Worm first brought the Internet to its knees by exploiting buffer overruns in C, Apple was already five years into its Macintosh project that ended up defining the entire future of operating system design… in Pascal.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Wait, what?

I’ve also got to say your insults of C are offensive. It was designed as a close as possible “to the metal” language. It was supposed to alleviate the reliance on Assembly. Of course it’s dangerous when misused. It’s low-level capable, and you ought to feel like you’re walking around with lit sticks of dynamite in both hands while using it.

Perhaps Basic, Pascal, or Ada would be more to your taste? No offence intended.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Wait, what?

I’ve also got to say your insults of C are offensive. It was designed as a close as possible “to the metal” language.

See the quote by Tony Hoare, above. Saying “it’s only doing what it’s designed to do” is no excuse when it was already well known, decades earlier, that this was a bad design.

It was supposed to alleviate the reliance on Assembly.

…and so was every other high level language in existence at the time. What makes C so special, except that it did such a bad job of it?

Of course it’s dangerous when misused. It’s low-level capable, and you ought to feel like you’re walking around with lit sticks of dynamite in both hands while using it.

Yeah, think about that for a second. Granted, I’ve never actually used dynamite, but it seems to me, just based on common sense, that holding a lit stick in your hand, for any reason, is Doing It Wrong. And if you’re supposed to feel like you’re doing something very wrong every time you use it… well, yeah, that’s actually a pretty apt description. It’s wrong to use C. Period. 😉

Sheogorath (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Wait, what?

Alan Turing: Did a bunch of research that duplicated the work of an American researcher (Alonzo Church).[citation needed]
You see, Wikipedia states: Also in 1936, before learning of Church’s work, Alan Turing created a theoretical model for machines, now called Turing machines, that could carry out calculations from inputs by manipulating symbols on a tape. Next time, either do your research or just STFU.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Wait, what?

I didn’t say he copied off of Church’s work (ie. used it for inspiration); I said that he duplicated it (ie. did essentially the same thing.) Whether or not he knew about Alonzo Church’s work already doesn’t change that simple fact, so what exactly is it that you’re finding fault with in my posting?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Wait, what?

I said companies, not individuals. Which successful european IT companies of worldwide renown besides SAP are you able to list?

We do have and had quite a lot of brilliant minds in the IT space here, but when it comes to commercial application, european IT companies have no redeeming qualities. Everything worthwhile is produced by companies outside of europe, mostly in Japan, USA, South Korea and China.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Wait, what?

I said companies, not individuals.

Ah! So you did. I’ll concede the point.

It’s a pretty sad situation when you consider it. We used to hear stories about Russian (Soviet) programmers who were brilliant coders, but had never even seen a computer. Yet their code compiled and ran first time with no errors. This is with Assembly to boot. That’s. Just. Amazing!

I’ve always idolized the German apprenticeship system. They say budding machinists are handed a block of metal and told to work with it, for the next six months!

That’s deep knowledge of the tools and materials involved and the overall craft.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Wait, what?


That’s just what I was thinking too:

While I do think antitrust is an important tool in stopping abusive monopolistic powers that block out any and all competition …

Just for the record, I strongly disagree. Microsoft can’t stop me from using free software. Google can’t stop me from using ixQuick instead. Banksters can’t stop me from preferring credit unions over too big to fail banks. If any of them could, it would be due to some dipshit (aka “bribed”) politician passing laws that skew the marketplace in their favor.

I do want to keep government from favoring any particular operation over another (creating unnatural monopolies by interfering with the market), but there is nothing wrong with natural monopolies, as their bottom line proves. Being better at serving the customer is their job. Doing a better job than their competition on the level playing field of the marketplace is what’s expected of them. Any power brokers sticking their noses in there in favor of their particular preference is not welcome, is cheating, and is what gives monopoly a bad name.

Butt out, Gunther. This is not what we want elected (nor especially appointed) representatives to do with our delegated power.

Anonymous Coward says:

My problem with Google was it’s ready helping of the government spying. That is until the Snowden documents came out. Then they suddenly got privacy religion as far as the government goes but not too much of it.

Because Google is so spread though the net, it’s hard to avoid it if you don’t want it’s services and don’t want it’s spying on the consumer for commercial uses.

So I do what I can to prevent it from intruding mainly because I like my privacy and that is the one thing Google is not serious about offering.

Now I don’t run around all the time throwing rocks at Google to anyone that will listen but then I don’t support them either.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I know where your coming from

Unfortunatly, ive been caught in the trap of “using google ecosystem too long, its hard to break out, without acceptable alternatives”

But one thing i have done……..i might be caught, right now, with the current services, but ive noticed, im alot scrutinizing with any new ones, im glad to say that i havent signed on to anything new, since i started thinking this way, something that would get me deeper, and hence harder to leave

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

… [I] might be caught, right now, with the current services, but [I’ve] noticed, [I’m] alot scrutinizing with any new ones, [I’m] glad to say that [I] [haven’t] signed on to anything new, since [I] started thinking this way, something that would get me deeper, and hence harder to leave

Gee, a blast from the past! I used to hear this all the time but the target then was Microsoft, and before them IBM. A few Graybeards created Unix just to get away from Multics at AT&T. Nowadays, it’s Apple (iTunes) and Google (gmail, gmaps, gwallet, …). It’s proprietary lock-in, attempting to get you so hooked on some operation’s ways that it’s prohibitively expensive to even consider the competition. It’s also why “the Cloud” provided services is lunacy. The only way to win that game is to not play! Thank you Stephen Falken.

This is why we have things like ISO and IEEE standards, so all our data doesn’t lock us into buying yet another copy of Word or IE or Excel (or Access or db2 or rdb or Oracle) just so we can still access our data.

Thanks for the reminder. I’d pretty much forgotten that war. That was fun! I’ve been eschewing proprietary software lock-in since ’93. 🙂

David says:

Re: Re:

They do have to respond to legal, constitutional warrants. So I’m worried about them “helping” in that case, they legally have to comply. Where they got ‘religion’ was when they found out governments were tapping their inter-datacenter connections without their knowledge. That pretty much pissed them off and they’ve been pushing ‘encrypt everything’ since. Especially now that they are starting to rank sites that force https slightly higher than non encrypted sites.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Especially now that they are starting to rank sites that force https slightly higher than non encrypted sites.

Very cool! Thanks. I didn’t know that. It’s little things like this that make me think there’s still hope for this “humanity” thing. A few more minor wrinkles to be worked out, and it’ll all be golden.

I think I can almost smell that flying car I was promised so many years ago.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Note, I’m not a fan of Google. I don’t use anything of theirs but YouTube (thanks! :-). However:

My problem with Google was its ready helping of the government spying.

You’re missing an important part of this. If Google receives a National Security Letter demanding it produce data which it may be holding, it has no choice but to comply. In addition, they don’t even have the right to say they’ve received said NSL. Whole companies have shut themselves down trying to protect their customers from this stuff and still found themselves open to threats for refusing to comply.

Google had no choice in the matter. This is the classic “damned if you, and damned if you don’t.” They’re an innocent bystander in somebody else’s !@#$storm.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: dont understand the complaint....

Search results of what you are looking for on Google are rated higher than search results of search results of a no-name search engine?

Thats gonna change, if global govrnments get their way, give it time

[I’ve got a great big “What?” staring at me for that first sentence. However, …]

So, what’s the count now of governments damning, attacking, and firewalling “their subjects'” view of the net? India, EU, Pakistan, USA, New Zealand, China, “Best Korea” (snicker), other (South) Korea, Australia, Canada, Russia, Burma/Myanmar, Ceylon, Indonesia, VietNam, … Are there any left?

Well, Africa yeah, but nobody thinks they count right? Okay, maybe Egypt and Tunisia (but that’s all).

“Immanent death of the Internet predicted. Film at eleven.”

[Please consider sarcasm while reading. No offense is intended. This !@#$ comes to me naturally. I’ve no defense against it, sorry. It’s like Turettes Syndrome or something.]

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Would not shed a tear

And getting rid of the NSA front in Europe would not hurt either.

We don’t ask you cause apparently you cannot come up with one coherent argument.

S/He was going for funny, silly. At least I think s/he was. It’s not always easy to tell, I know.

I just assume “insane” == “comedic intent”. It makes it a lot easier to put up with all of you people’s wierdness.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Would not shed a tear

Even if you wanted the break up Google, doing so wouldn’t achieve the scenario you want to imagine. You couldn’t reverse the trends that you don’t like about the way Google does business. It would just be a different corporation or several different corporations doing things that way. Do not assume that such an act would be done for the benefit if the users, but for the benefit of other, jealous corporations.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Would not shed a tear

Even if you wanted the break up Google, doing so wouldn’t achieve the scenario you want to imagine.

Yup. In fact, they (G.) might prefer the result. They’d be divesting themselves of the thing that people (“EU politicians”) most complain about, allowing them to focus on the really cool stuff (Gbit Internet, gmail, gmaps, gcars, gglass, …) instead. “Hey thanks!”

That “search engine” !@#$ was getting really boring, ya know? Who in their right mind wants to fiddle with SEO and related !@#$ in the 21st Century? Holy !@#$. Zzzzz …

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

He is basically without any knowledge in the field and he lacks communication with academics and other more neutral sources, while doubling down on any lobbyists hints.

He is the worst kind of lebensbrot politician you can possibly imagine. He is where he is because Merkel didn’t want him in german politics. Now he is part of mr. illegal surveillance and tax shelter apologists horror-cabinet.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m pretty much ignorant on all of this, but what you just wrote has got a couple of brain cells in the back of my head screaming “Follow The Money” at the top of their lungs. It’s really, really annoying, and I hate it when that happens, but the damned things just won’t shut up.

Perhaps my Fox News/MSNBC usage meter is telling me I’m getting low or something, but I’m feeling a bit woozy …

textibule (profile) says:

Big & American Or Something

Seen from here in Europe, the Big & American Or Something argument is pretty compelling. Look at how nauseating the internet has become in the last few years. And who do we blame for that? The Russians?

Anyone who thinks the US tech industry is the greatest positive influence on human culture since Isaac Newton or Lao-Tsu is rooting for the wrong team.

textibule (profile) says:

Re: Re: Big & American Or Something

Google is only part of the nausea, but not the smallest. “Move fast, break things” is pretty nauseating, too.

Being shocked at the overshoot of security-state data mining gets great points amongst the pious, but pales compared to the amount of information/power that privately-run not-democratically-elected Google holds…and uses. This doesn’t scare the bejeesus out of you? You must work for a tech startup.

Add the secret gardens that Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, ad nauseum are all trying to create for their own benefit, not yours, increases the nausea. This is not the internet I was involved with, all starry-eyed, back in the early 90’s.

techflaws (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Big & American Or Something

You must work for a tech startup.

Or… I’m fine with the limited amount of data I’m voluntarily providing to these services in exchange for their services. And no, that does in NO WAY hold a candle to the indiscriminate spying on everyone done by governments (with far more power over me as a citizen) I cannot opt out of.

Add the secret gardens that Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, ad nauseum are all trying to create for their own benefit, not yours, increases the nausea.

It would help your argument to get your terminology straight. It’s walled gardens, there’s nothing secret about it, most people know what they’re getting into and you know what? They do it freely.

This is not the internet I was involved with, all starry-eyed, back in the early 90’s.

Noone’s stopping you from plugging in you 56k dial-up modem and putting in the AOL CD. Enjoy.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Big & American Or Something

This is insightful?!?

Everyone willy nilly abandoning email (and Usenet, and …) for Facebook, Twitter, and “The Cloud” is just hunky dory in your opinion?!? Ya know, if it wasn’t for all that video (and $0.99 iTunes) you were streaming to your iBauble every month, that 56k dialup connecting to AOL would do you just fine?

GTFO my planet, dipshit.

nerdbert (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Big & American Or Something

This is not the internet I was involved with, all starry-eyed, back in the early 90’s.

Newbie. You should have seen it in the early 80s if you wanted to see your nirvana. Seriously dude, the ‘net back then was a bunch of academics, mainly computer guys. We’d use USENET to pass around source code, debate on SunOS vs. BSD, etc. There was even this thing called email that nobody understood. But it wasn’t horribly useful for the average corporation, much less the average Joe.

And some of us remember when AltaVista ruled the search engine world and Google was in a dorm room. Trust me, the web sucked back then.

Complain all you want, but Google raised the utility of the Web, and the price it demanded was your information to sell you ads. At the time, that was a small price. And even today you can (mostly) avoid them if you care enough.

And if you ask me if I want a private company who wants my data but is willing to give me good services in return for somewhat limited access to my data, or a government who requires all information on me by force of law and is more interested in finding a reason to deprive me of my liberty than providing me a service, I’d have to say that I’ll take Google over the government any day. At worst, Google is going to show me idiotic unwanted ads, while the government will confuse me with a terrorist and jail me.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Big & American Or Something

Damn, some of you guys make me feel old. Gopher, Veronica, FTP, finger,, …

I was using BBSs five years before I even learned that “The Internet” (“WTF is that?!?”) existed, and “Holy crap yeah let’s connect the BBSs to the Internet, what are we waiting for?!? Are ya mental?!?”

It is not at all astounding to me that random politicians/bureaucrats don’t understand what they’re dealing with here. They’re busy cashing campaign donation cheques. Why any of you even listen to their whines is mysterious.

Google should just write EU off, refuse to answer the phone, and wait for them to crawl begging on their knees to be re-spidered, at its leisure!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Big & American Or Something

I’m from europe too, (germany to be specific) and I have not much of an issue with google. Yes, google gets private information, but unlike the governments, I actually get a tangible benefit from providing the information. Also, I know how to reduce the amount of information I give up.

Personally, I rather have google having my information than the governments and I rather use goolge services than the half assed concoctions european IT companies come up with in “competition” with the big evil G.

And that has nothing to do with google being american either. I wouldn’t care if google were russian or chinese either. They are the least bad large IT company with the best and most compelling offerings around from where I stand.

Ferd (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Big & American Or Something

Jeebus. Why don’t you Euros come up with your own tech products then? You’re so smart you should easily be able to come up with your own Googles, Ciscos, Apples, Microsofts, etc., right? Then you can buy your own stuff and give the finger to the nauseating Americans.

It would be just like Airbus but for network stuff. You could even make it really like Airbus and have the government run it. The East German company “Robotron” comes to mind. Cool name, tech that was 20 years behind the rest of the civilized world.

Come on, it’s not that hard. You’d think after having the net around for so long you could figure it out. Funny though, I don’t see Euro tech companies at the top of the tech world.

And once you’ve established your booming “Silicon Euro”, let us know how that goes with elimination of “security-state data mining”. You are aware that the Euro security services do the same things, right?

Manabi (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Big & American Or Something

Google is only part of the nausea, but not the smallest. “Move fast, break things” is pretty nauseating, too.

Ahh, the “I don’t like things changing, get off my damn lawn you kids!” reason.

Sorry, things are overall much better now than they were in the early days of the Internet. You must not have actually been around back then.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Big & American Or Something

Seen from here in Europe, the Big & American Or Something argument is pretty compelling.

Really? Why?

Look at how nauseating the internet has become in the last few years. And who do we blame for that? The Russians?

You think it makes sense to break up companies because they nauseate you for unexplained reasons?

Anyone who thinks the US tech industry is the greatest positive influence on human culture since Isaac Newton or Lao-Tsu is rooting for the wrong team.

Ok. So build your own damn services in response and do a better job of it. But why break up offerings that people appear pretty happy to have chosen?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Big & American Or Something

European companies tried to build competing services. They had just one major flaw, they sucked hard. Most of the planned “competition” was based on state funded research to create the “technologically best service possible”. Too bad the people deciding were pure academics and politicians. The user didn’t even show up in remote considerations

All those services were junk designed by committee, not to appeal to users, but to satisfy academic and political vanity. Most didn’t even make it to beta tests and those who did failed hard. If some are still around they have no importance whatsoever.

There is not much of an IT industry over here, the only actual big one is SAP and it is surprising that they got that big to begin with. Everything else that emerged here in the 80s and 90s has already been sold to primarily US companies and if so much as a shell is left it is noteworthy.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Big & American Or Something

I think you might be confused over the difference between a delivery system and the content that is provided.

If you are feeling nauseated, then consider it is not the delivery system (which could easily include search engines, as there is no content provided by those) but the content providers. There I think you have an argument for ‘Big & American Or Something’, it’s just that you want to break up the wrong entity (I was gonna use person there, but it felt so dirty, horrific, Spanish Inquisition, and wrong (Who woulda thunk the Supreme Court could screw up creative processes with their ‘out of their asses’ rulings?)).

The MAFFIA are rooted in Hollywood, not Silicon Valley, and have spread their tentacles voraciously. Between copyright maximalism and the lousy content being produced one has good argument for nausea, but it is not with Google, or search engines at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Big & American Or Something

BRAVO!! About damn time someone saw the light. Google only points to that which is provided by everyone else. It generates NOTHING by itself. Dissing Google is like complaining about the phone company when you get inundated by sales calls. The phone company didn’t create the calls it only carried them, with basically the same efficiency and cost as you calling your mother. Obviously a good reason to destroy the phone companies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Big & American Or Something

“Seen from here in Europe, the Big & American Or Something argument is pretty compelling. Look at how nauseating the internet has become in the last few years.”

Could you elaborate on what is nauseating to you? I am European, currently living in the US, so I do have a European perspective. I also know there’s a huge European tech industry (I’ve been in it my whole career) and that mass surveillance is as persistent in the EU as it is in the US.

“Anyone who thinks the US tech industry is the greatest positive influence on human culture since Isaac Newton or Lao-Tsu is rooting for the wrong team.”

Who is saying that it is? Why exclude European tech industry from your argument? You think it’s only US? It isn’t.

Using the internet is still voluntary and you can choose to enhance your own security if you wish (VPNs and so on). But you are not anonymous if you walk down the street, do you complain about street cameras appearing in every city? The only way to evade them is to stay away from public areas like stations, shopping centres, cinemas etc etc. On the other hand you can live a fulfilled life without a smartphone, without a FB account, without Twitter, without LinkedIn and without search engines (). Or you can choose to edit your settings to block google analytics, FB data collection from non-FB pages and so on. In other words you have a choice. Don’t like it then don’t use it or build a better one. Google’s success wasn’t pre-ordained, there is no rule of business, morality or ethics that says that Google is eternal. Build a better one.

Despite being in tech, I have none of those, ie no smartphone, no FB, no LinkedIn, and google analytics and FB never get into my house, to mention a few.

Anonymous Coward says:

I do want a major player to google, i want several, but i want them to get there through their own merits……

I want one that doesnt use our property, i.e. information… a commodity, at least, withpout explicit consent, and i mean choices in every scarp of info they want, seperated and not bundled…….AND an easy way, on/off swith, on the CLIENT side whenever we want to stop given, were the system is built to automatically delete on the SERVER side that which is turned off………AND no more of the illussion of choice, where if you dont say “i accept”, to give you what you’ve asked, regardless if i want to give it, then you cant use this piece of software, that has no real alternative

I dont want to see google dismantled, barring news of major violations, i want to see alternatives rise up through their merits to match and hopefully exceed what google offers, that puts the human above the corporate

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: unbundling various other services from the search engine

They even do a similar thing in their android devices, bundling alot of system apps with one i.d, so if you have a permissions app, and want to block that one single app that MAY be reported to be spying on you, you cant block its permission, seing as that app has been bundle with a system app, that if blocked could cause major issues with device, i.e. bootloops, no internet for ANY app etc etc baring unistalling the app, assuming it was’nt bundled into something else that deals in operating your phone which is ten times worse

Anonymous Coward says:

Google Services

It does worry me that Google has the ability to drive a lot of people to its own services and away from competitors, but the real question has Google actually taken any action that has force people to use their apps. Microsoft certainly did that in the 90s. I didn’t suddenly start using Google maps or Gmail because I typed “maps” or “email” into a search engine. It was my choice to switch from Mapquest and hotmail because Google made superior products.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Google Services

I would go further and say that sometimes I do just type in a simple word like “maps” into a Google search bar and I expect Google to return their Google Maps site as the first result. If I wanted Yahoo Maps, I’d search for “maps” on Yahoo’s search engine or I’d perform a Google search for “yahoo maps.” When I go to Target and ask a customer service rep where the toothpaste aisle is, I don’t expect them to point out which aisle that is at a nearby Walmart.

RonKaminsky (profile) says:

Re: Not obvious

Google’s power of delisting is strong only against someone with competition/replacements which haven’t also been delisted. In any other case, delisting only drives users to other alternatives.

So no, delisting all EU sites probably wouldn’t exactly do what you think it would do. Besides, what is an “EU site”? A site from a company based in the EU? A site hosted on a server in the EU?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Breaking up Google

Most sites on the internet represent large multinational corporations and serve as sales points. If the EU terminals for those sites get blocked, they simply go elsewhere.

Think what happened when Pirate Bay got blocked. It took a few minutes to a few hours to be right back up. They just moved. So will the EU based sites.

That’s the way the internet operates. It’s designed to get around interference. If Google stops indexing EU sites, some other outfit will jump in and do it instead.

This whole fiasco is just about money, anyway. The EU companies see Google making it hand over fist and WANT some of it. Never mind that they could never equal Google’s performance (which is why they are rich). It’s just pure jealousy. If they actually got cut off, the lawsuits would be flying along with the screams.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Google lives on advertising revenue. Google doesn’t get such revenue if they deliberately “cook the books” in favor of one company over another. Worse, they get called out on it, very publicly, by folks like us. I’m 72, so I suppose that qualifies as “old”. I get it (I think, anyway). Could Google play the pay for position game? I suppose they could, but many have tried and failed spectacularly, so they don’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I fail to see any commonality, perhaps you could clarify your opinion.

Marxism is a worldview and method of societal analysis that focuses on class relations and societal conflict, that uses a materialist interpretation of historical development, and a dialectical view of social transformation. Marxist methodology uses economic and sociopolitical inquiry and applies that to the critique and analysis of the development of capitalism and the role of class struggle in systemic economic change

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Great

Steals, as in directs web traffic on a massive scale to source of material – interesting use of the term, not biased at all. You see, rather than paying for advertising like everyone else, some people think they should be paid for allowing their stuff to be advertised.

You think that’s amazing? Wait, there is more … some of these ingenious folks claim rights over things they did not in fact create and then bitch about supposed theft from ‘real creators’ as if they themselves were included in that group. It’s quite funny actually.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Google is no good

Wrote an article related to this: …

Yeah, some guy blogging about how all the free stuff he’s getting to use is actually costing him something he didn’t expect to having to pay for in some way or another.

Yawn. Golf clap. Nobody’s forcing you to use it. I don’t use it. What’s your excuse? Build your own if you don’t like it, freetard.

Anonymous Coward says:

EU Financial Problems

If you think about it, this whole problem is a direct result of Europe being in financial trouble. They are trying to figure out how to get money, and Google looks like a great, deep pockets, target. Problem is, Google is smarter then the whole bunch of them combined, and always will be. Best result: the EU takes Google to court, loses, and ends up broken up into the original squabbling tribes. Should be fun to watch.

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