EU Official Says It's Time To Harm American Internet Companies Via Regulations… Hours Later Antitrust Charges Against Google Announced

from the as-expected dept

This has been expected for a few weeks now (or a few months, depending on how you look at it), but the EU is now officially getting ready to file antitrust charges against Google. The WSJ has the initial report with very few details:

Europe?s antitrust regulator has decided to file formal charges against Google Inc. for violating the bloc?s antitrust laws, a person familiar with the matter said on Tuesday, stepping up a five-year investigation that is set to become the biggest competition battle in Brussels since the European Union?s pursuit of Microsoft Corp. a decade ago.

This also happens to come out the very same day that the EU’s digital commissioner, Gunther Oettinger, has announced that the EU should regulate American internet companies to provide a bigger opportunity for European companies:

The European Union should regulate Internet platforms in a way that allows a new generation of European operators to overtake the dominant U.S. players, the bloc?s digital czar said, in an unusually blunt assessment of the risks that U.S. Web giants are viewed as posing to the continent?s industrial heartland.

Speaking at a major industrial fair in Hannover, Germany, the EU?s digital commissioner, G?nther Oettinger, said Europe?s online businesses were ?dependent on a few non-EU players world-wide? because the region had ?missed many opportunities? in the development of online platforms.

Mr. Oettinger spoke of the need to ?replace today?s Web search engines, operating systems and social networks? without naming any companies.

Obviously, the details of the charges against Google matter quite a bit, but, as we’ve said in the past, it seems odd that technocrat regulators seem to think that they know how to better design a search engine or a social network than the companies who have actually been doing so. Furthermore, the idea that European companies are at some sort of inherent disadvantage to American startups seems disproved by the success of multiple European internet companies, including Spotify and Soundcloud. Those companies didn’t succeed by having regulators kneecap their competitors, but by building a better product.

Again, the specifics here definitely matter quite a bit, but given just how “transparent” EU regulators have been lately about wanting to take down successful American internet companies solely because they’re successful and American, there are serious questions about the real motives behind this particular antitrust move. And, even worse, they don’t seem to realize how a misguided antitrust fight will come back around and harm European internet companies as well, limiting their ability to truly compete.

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Comments on “EU Official Says It's Time To Harm American Internet Companies Via Regulations… Hours Later Antitrust Charges Against Google Announced”

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150 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Exactly. I forgot that Spotify was “imported” and I didn’t know that SoundCloud was or wasn’t “American.” The internet is the internet. It’s completely artificial and antiquated to think of internet companies in terms of nationalism unless they have necessary regional limitations to their operation. Barring censorship and networking problems, you can do a google search from anywhere that you can get a network signal. That’s not an American company. That’s an internet company.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’m reminded of this whenever I try to open a trailer for something and am presented with a “This video isn’t available in your country” message, for example. Everyone treats the internet as a local thing, not just monolithic government bodies.
After so many years using it I’d expect we’d be a bit further along than this.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I was curious about the reasons why people outside the EU would should have a strong enough opinion to engage in a boycott.

My personal stance is nuanced… while I am unconvinced that Google is a monopoly that requires antitrust actions, I am also aware that the EU has the right to set whatever rules it wishes about such things. I don’t see this action as being against some sort of fundamental human right that would warrant popular retaliation outside of the EU.

So, in the end, my perspective is that it’s pretty much an internal EU matter and I’m content to let them work it out in the manner they deem best.

eye sea ewe says:

Re: Re: Re:

The correct form is,

People innovate, Americans buy up innovations, patent and re-badge as American, Europeans regulate.

If you look very closely at the history of inventiveness and innovation, one begins to realise that America’s greatness in this area is to fund development (but take ownership by patents and otherwise of the innovations). It does have some level of inventiveness and innovation but no where near the level it thinks it has.

Simply look at the 70’s and 80’s when foreign nationals were being restricted from participating in high tech ventures, particularly when it was those very foreign nationals that had brought in the tech in the first place. I think of it as the time of the IEEE wars. Or going further back, look at WWII and medicine. Or the developments that occurred in aviation, film technology, scientific test equipment and research, etc.

I read many articles that seem to indicate that these are American innovation but are, in fact, from diverse places around the world and the basic American contribution was currency.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Innovation and...

The version I heard (which may not be pertinent here) is Young companies innovate. Old companies litigate.

But here in the US (I can’t speak for outside of the US) innovation is not merely restricted to improvements of end products, but also clever marketing, lobbying, DRM, and monopoly on features or even entire products.

Innovation isn’t always a good thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Google gives NSA "direct access", so says Snowden.

Google has over $50 BILLION NEVER BEEN TAXED in offshore shell corps.

Proof that cooperating with NSA gains exemption from laws.

To Masnick, that’s innovation, and so trots out this defense of multi-national spy corp.

Google DOES need taken down several notches.

JMT says:

Re: Google gives NSA "direct access", so says Snowden.

How did you make the leap from anti-trust to tax avoidance? They’re two completely different issues. Google’s tax avoidance is typical of many massive companies from all over the world, and they should ALL be dealt with the same way, but I don’t hear you squawking about them.

eye sea ewe says:

Re: Re: Google gives NSA "direct access", so says Snowden.

There is a major difference between Tax Avoidance and Tax Minimisation. What many companies do is Tax Minimisation which is completely legal and everyone has the option to do this.

What governments and people get upset over is that these companies actually use the law as written to minimise their pecuniary burden and they are successful at it.

The problem here is not the actions of the companies in question but the legislative complexity underlying all Tax Law.

The various governmental tax collection agencies, with the various legislative bodies, are responsible for the mess in question. They have made it so complex that loophole after loophole becomes available.

The most effective way to deal with this problem is to simply rescind all tax legislation and start again with a simple tax code. But this will not happen because it would show up the various avenues that the governments use to remove your hard earned income. it would also show up the massive waste of resources that our individual governments create with this massive tax legislation.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Google gives NSA "direct access", so says Snowden.

“What governments and people get upset over is that these companies actually use the law as written to minimise their pecuniary burden and they are successful at it.”

True, and rightfully so.

“The problem here is not the actions of the companies in question but the legislative complexity underlying all Tax Law.”

The problem is both. Tax law is insane, and that’s a big problem. But the attitude that if something is legal then it’s automatically right, proper, and acceptable to do is equally insane, and that’s a big problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Google gives NSA "direct access", so says Snowden.

But the attitude that if something is legal then it’s automatically right, proper, and acceptable to do is equally insane, and that’s a big problem.

Unfortunately, many people exist in the realm of, if it is lawful it is okay, because only good laws exist. This includes governments, law enforcement, and much of the population.

They only oppose laws that adversely affect them, irrespective, of whether the specific laws are just or not. In recent decades, most of our guns were removed from circulation because of a very small number of high profile incidents. There is a women I know who believes that guns are evil and should not be allowed in the hands of anyone who is not law enforcement. This is an emotional issue for her (in her own words, she fears guns) and you cannot have a rational discussion with her about many things because of her emotional viewpoint.

You Americans demonstrate this mindset all the time. There are many, many people who live in the mindset that they aught to make a law against anything they don’t like.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Google gives NSA "direct access", so says Snowden.

“You Americans demonstrate this mindset all the time. There are many, many people who live in the mindset that they aught to make a law against anything they don’t like.”

Absolutely correct. This is a something I’ve been railing against for most of my life.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Tyranny

The whole point of a parliamentary system such as that in the US is to reduce the amount of crap law that comes from dictatorship. It’s why terms like tyrant and despot have negative connotations.

The whole government-by-the-people thing emerged as a step forward because bad law has been the norm for pretty much the entirety of human history. (And then we still have tyranny of the majority.)

In the contemporary world where legislators are captured by corporate or plutocratic interests, good law is a pleasant surprise.

The police and legal systems who enforce bad law are doing it out of ignorance or ulterior motives (e.g. filling up prison cells, getting to shoot people dead and feel powerful.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Google gives NSA "direct access", so says Snowden.

Tax minimisation is about forum shopping: Shifting money through the right countries with the right laws to end up paying taxes in the least taxed country.

It is not about using tax law per se, it is about using differences in tax laws in different countries to avoid as much of the tax as possible!

Thus, if US starts over on tax code the fundamental problem of modern tax minimisation would remain.

And no, it is not possible for everyone to use these methods. It takes quite a lot of work to use the holes. Thus, the savings will come with an overhead that only larger economic movings can absorb.

eye sea ewe says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Google gives NSA "direct access", so says Snowden.

Thus, if US starts over on tax code the fundamental problem of modern tax minimisation would remain.

Tax minimisation is not a problem. If you don’t do this as a matter of course, you are just giving your income away for no good purpose. If you are entitled to tax deduction, you should be taking it.

Simplifying the Tax legislation reduces the complicated loopholes that are then used to drastically reduce the tax paid by multinational companies.

It is not about using tax law per se, it is about using differences in tax laws in different countries to avoid as much of the tax as possible!

If the various tax legislations in the various countries allow processes to be set up that allow such drastic minimisation, that is still solvable by simplifying the tax legislation in even one of those countries.

If a particular country (say the USA) allows funds transfers between related companies where one is internal to the USA (so it is covered by the USA tax legislation) to one that is in another tax environment and so allows a drastic minimisation of tax collection in the USA. It is not the fault of the companies in question using these different tax legislations to minimise their payable tax. It is the responsibility of the relevant USA tax legislators to fix such.

The general means of doing this is to increase the complexity of the legislation, the consequence is that new avenues are created for minimisation. Simplifying the tax legislation is a first step to fixing the problem – it also requires a serious look at why particular levels of taxation are required and where the major wastage is occurring that require the levels being asked for.

Many years ago, the Australian Tax Office asked the reigning government at the time to approve an additional $350 million for audit processes. The expected return to the government of the day was a collection figure of $250 million. As the euphemism is, around the water cooler, some managers at the company I was doing work at were discussing this particular piece of news and the general consensus of the participants (of which I was not one) was that this should be grounds for sacking of those who made the proposal.

I see a problem with avoiding tax. I don’t see a problem with minimising tax. if the legislators have made the rules and they now allow me to reduce what tax I pay, then bully for me. I have no guilt at paying less than someone else, if the rules put in place allow me to do so. No criticism by the government or other pundits saying that I should not be doing what I am allowed to do means anything.

And no, it is not possible for everyone to use these methods.

With that said, the general tax legislations around the world are geared to be against the likes of you and me. If anyone wants to complain about the unfairness of what can be done, they need to take it up with their law makers and get them to fix it. However, as we are little fellows, our input will only serve to increase our burdens not decrease them because we are the basic patsies for the system.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Google gives NSA "direct access", so says Snowden.

“If you are entitled to tax deduction, you should be taking it.”

Not necessarily. There are a number of deductions that I am entitled to, but the overhead cost of actually taking them (in terms of recordkeeping and other hassles) exceeds the value of the deduction. It would be stupid for me to actually claim those.

eye sea ewe says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Google gives NSA "direct access", so says Snowden.

Cost benefit to the fore.

Our Tax Office has a process where most people are entitled to an average deduction value. If you want to go over this, you need to provide details.

Yet sometimes the costs of the record keeping is itself a deduction. But I am assuming that you have streamlined your record keeping. I don’t know what you have to do in the USA but here in Australia, your record keeping is essential anyway for anyone running any kind of business. If you’re a standard Pay As You Earn tax payer, our tax office has made it relatively simple for you to claim your expenses and deductions.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Google gives NSA "direct access", so says Snowden.

In the US, you have a choice — you can take a standard deduction or you can itemize deductions. If you itemize, then you have to keep the documentation (receipts, statements, etc.) to support each deduction you claim. If you just go with the standard, then you don’t need to keep any of that stuff.

“Yet sometimes the costs of the record keeping is itself a deduction.”

Same in the US, but the deduction isn’t nearly enough to cover the expense in many situations. Note that by “expense” here, I don’t mean just monetary expense, but the time and subjective hassle as well.

“I don’t know what you have to do in the USA but here in Australia, your record keeping is essential anyway for anyone running any kind of business.”

I’m talking about personal income taxes here. For businesses, yes, you’re doing the recordkeeping anyway. For your personal stuff, that’s not required (except for tax purposes — circling back around to the cost of claiming deductions). In other words, if you’re running a business, you’re filing tax returns for two entities: yourself, and the business. (Unless you’re operating the business as a “sole proprietorship”, which commingles the business and your personal finances. But you really shouldn’t be doing that.)

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Proprietorships and partnerships

are for businesses too small to incorporate, and yes, the risk is that a liability suit that eats through your business capital will also claim private assets as necessary.

Through at the time, incorporation was difficult and expensive. It still might be.

In a less litigious America, it was often a risk worth taking.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Proprietorships and partnerships

are for businesses too small to incorporate …

There’s no such thing. I was working as a self-employed contractor. I bought an incorporation package from a lawyer, and client cheques went to its business account, from which I withdrew. It’s the only way RevCan and the corps will allow. The sad part of it is needing to go through headhunters to get contracts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Google gives NSA "direct access", so says Snowden.

If the various tax legislations in the various countries allow processes to be set up that allow such drastic minimisation, that is still solvable by simplifying the tax legislation in even one of those countries.
There are plenty of situations where the simplification of tax-law would not be enough to do in either end. Again, simplification could improve or it could harm, depending on the specific simplification. When talking about deduction-entitlement it would generally be a good idea to look at simplifying since the overhead for those it is designed for is pretty large.

When that is said, the main vehicles used for these tax-games are transfer pricing (patent or other license accruing vehicle placed in a low tax country or country grabbing huge amounts of license fees to assure a consistent loss in tax heavy countries) or using drawer “investment” firms to move money through bonuses, stocks or other investment vehicles. You cannot simplify your way out of those.

While you may plug some holes by simplifying tax incentives domestically, it is not the solution to the international tax minimization schemes and by closing the domestic holes you may make it even more attractive for companies to find a better tax country, thus losing taxes on the move.

You are right that the system is geared against you and me, but that is not a result of law makers not listening. It is merely that the international society is nowhere near geared towards liberal rights, democracy or moral and tax minimisation is an incredibly profitable industry for some coutries.

Khaim (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Tax law

The various governmental tax collection agencies, with the various legislative bodies, are responsible for the mess in question. They have made it so complex that loophole after loophole becomes available.

The most effective way to deal with this problem is to simply rescind all tax legislation and start again with a simple tax code. But this will not happen because it would show up the various avenues that the governments use to remove your hard earned income.

No, the reason this won’t happen is because lawmakers intentionally created each of these tax breaks. Someone convinced them that it was a good idea to “encourage” this or that behavior with tax incentives. So while politicians might make a big fuss about how little tax is being paid in general, once you start asking about particular “loopholes” you’ll find that a lot of politicians support them.

This is the same thing that happens with “handouts” and the general public. Ask about welfare in general and you’ll get vocal opposition; ask about specific programs and suddenly most people are in favor. The best explanation I have for this phenomenon is that people build up a mental model of a general category based on rhetoric and propaganda, and base their opinions on this false model. When you ask about specifics, you bypass their false impressions and discover their true feelings.

As an example, you seem to have the idea that government is evil. (I could be wrong, but “remove your hard earned income” is a big red flag.) However I doubt you will be able to make a compelling argument against every particular departments I could name, or even most of them. To your credit, I suspect that you will try, but aside from some blatant failures (e.g. the TSA) most parts of government serve a useful function. They’re not always efficient, but compared to areas without a functioning government? No contest.

eye sea ewe says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Tax law

As an example, you seem to have the idea that government is evil.

Government is necessary and is neither evil nor good. How it is run determines whether a particular incarnation is on the whole better or worse than a previous or future version.

They’re not always efficient, but compared to areas without a functioning government? No contest.

I agree.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Google gives NSA "direct access", so says Snowden.

Maybe if you didn’t come off sounding like a goddamned troll in every article having the least little connection to IP issues, people wouldn’t automatically flag your comments.

For what it’s worth, I do agree Google needs to be taken down a few pegs, but I question whether this is the correct method or international arena. Most of their douchery has been based on indiscriminate data collection, not antitrust. And the EU already has some of the strongest consumer data privacy laws on the planet (or so I hear).

So, to be strictly metaphorical, this is a lot like taking a gun to a knife fight and then finding out that you’re in the wrong town on top of that.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Well at least he's honest

Speaking at a major industrial fair in Hannover, Germany, the EU’s digital commissioner, Günther Oettinger, said Europe’s online businesses were “dependent on a few non-EU players world-wide” because the region had “missed many opportunities” in the development of online platforms.

Mr. Oettinger spoke of the need to “replace today’s Web search engines, operating systems and social networks” without naming any companies.

So because the local companies never bothered to make any real competing products, he’s trying to make the foreign ones that did illegal, or at least hamstring them sufficiently that maybe the local companies will actually try to compete this time around.

You can’t even really call this felony interference with a business model, unless ‘Not making any real products and hoping you can convince enough politicians to make competing with your non-existent product illegal’ is a business model.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Well at least he's honest

The TPP doesn’t include Europe.

That would be the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Its investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism wouldn’t become binding until both sides come to an agreement, or until both side ratify the agreement, depending on the wording.

The EU is a lot less open to ISDS provisions than it was when negotiations started.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Well at least he's honest

So because the local companies never bothered to make any real competing products, he’s trying to make the foreign ones that did illegal,

This is liberal thinking on full display. Take from those who work hard, innovate, etc and give it to the guys who sit back and waste opportunity after opportunity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Well at least he's honest

No, no I’m not. This is exactly liberal think. Take from hard working, innovative people and give to people who do nothing to deserve it. America and their corporations are big, rich entities that need to have their wealth redistributed. The guy even admits that EU companies missed their opportunity. So the punishment for that rests with the successful people/companies than with the people who failed to act.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Here’s a quarter … I suggest you go buy a clue.

Multinational corporations have no loyalty to your sorry ass in your sorry country, which ever one it happens to be. No – they will rape and pillage as they see fit regardless of your silly predictions and when they duke it out for market position collateral damage is very likely.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Don’t take anything Oettinger says to heart. The man is an empty echo of the lobbyists in Brussels and one of the most incompetent people in a lackluster commission.

Btw. The Google case is a different matter. That is Vestager who is usually somewhat competent and usually leans laissez-faire to a fault. When she is turning the legal gun at google it may be a good idea to wait for the specifics.

Anonymous Coward says:

the one industry that the EU needs to start fighting against, to give it’s own industries better chances and better opportunities of success is Hollywood and the associated studios etc. with the multiple restrictions implemented the second a new ‘something’ comes out, i’m surprised there’s any advance in sound and video technology at all! also given how those USA industries have been influencing nations across the globe to help keep them extremely profitable, at the expense of anything and everything, nothing needs change more than here! every country that has allowed itself to be influenced, probably via ‘encouragement’ to high ranking officials, has kept their own offerings in the shadows. not good!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

yeah, sadly oettinger is in fact in the pocket of hollywood etc. last i checked. he’s the same guy who wanted a tax on all search engine results to go straight into legacy media company pockets. this isn’t america versus eu, this is the internet future versus the 20th century nationalist-corporatist intellectual monopoly luddite past.

http://www.euractiv.com/sections/innovation-enterprise/oettinger-floats-proposal-eu-wide-google-tax-309568

terry (profile) says:

“The European Union should regulate Internet platforms in a way that allows a new generation of European operators to overtake the dominant U.S. players”

Isn’t this exactly what free-trade agreements are actually supposed to address and prevent, these kind of stack the deck abuses? Oh but if your too pre-occupied with utilizing them as a tool to pass local legislation you could never pass otherwise by ramming it through as a secretly negotiated treaty and give protectionism to your own buddies companies then what a free trade agreement should be might get left out.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Oettinger is one of the biggest proponents of removing the useless ban on “software as such”. While the formulation may suggest some restriction, it has been made irrelevant by ways to formulate software patents to work around it completely. With the Alice-case in US I would say that US precedence against software patents is harsher than the european, despite the laws indicating otherwise.

The largest party in EU is for the removal. Most of the rest do not care enough about it to defend it if they get a good horsetrade for removing it…

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Monopolism and cartels

EU companies are quite welcome to step up and offer competing services, it’s just that for the most part it seems they haven’t, and as a result US based ones are dominant in those markets.

The proper response here is to make a competing product, not sit back, do nothing, act surprised when someone else takes advantage of the opportunities you let slip past, and then demand that regulators cripple the ones who took ‘your’ piece of the pie.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Monopolism and cartels

I think it would benefit U.S. competitors too if Google was split up. Same for Microsoft.

Corporations these days are just too big, they are outside of all competition parameters.

This goes for Microsoft, Google, Apple, Samsung, Siemens, Philips, Facebook, all of them, no matter where there are based.

If the EU frames this as a way to allow European competitors to develop, then I think that is understandable, because that’s exactly what anti-cartel and anti-monopolist measures should achieve.

With American companies easily compelled to cooperate with the NSA through National Security Letters, EU privacy is also at risk, and while they may not say it out loud here, I’m sure we both agree this is another motivation for the EU behind the rhetoric?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Monopolism and cartels

Corporations these days are just too big, they are outside of all competition parameters.

Myspace is calling, it seems it would like to have a word with you. Also on the line are several other ‘too big’ companies that seem to have found out the hard way that they were not in fact invulnerable. Shall I take a message?

Just being big and/or popular are not reason enough to break a company up, unless they are abusing their position to intentionally harm competition(‘being really popular’ doesn’t count), or harming the public.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Monopolism and cartels

Myspace is calling, it seems it would like to have a word with you.

Myspace failed, so this somehow nullifies the scarcity of choice?

The fact that a major corporation failed doesn’t change the monopolist landscape in general… The problem is only truly solved when we have a wide variety of competitors vying for supremacy again, not when one colossus goes down as if this fixes everything else. So I don’t get your point, no. It’s like citing an honest bank to “debunk” the financial crisis.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Monopolism and cartels

Myspace showed that even if a company is large, and at the time seems to have the dominant position in the market that they are in, there always exists the possibility for someone to come along and do it better.

Sure Google may be pretty popular now, but as long as they aren’t actively making it more difficult for potential competition to enter the market(and again, ‘being popular’ doesn’t count), I say let them be. If someone else comes along and steals their users out from under them by offering a better product and/or service, that’s fine. If no-one can beat what they are offering, then that’s fine too.

More competition can be good, and generally is, but only as long as it’s real competition, and penalizing one company because others in it’s field couldn’t be bothered to actually compete, is not fair competition.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Monopolism and cartels

AH yes. BReak them up! Like the ma Bells!

….Turning an international, unified web presence into a geolocked, regional presence, which is the exact opposite of what we are looking for in an internet company.

So we cut up the divisions of google so they dont do everything! except then most of them die off because they aren’t being funded by adwords anymore, and so we lose the products. Thats not fostering “competition”. Thats killing off competition so your product, without the years of work and refinement, can succeed.

And you might remember where google is actively fighting handing over data to the NSA and the courts, by moving to greater encryption and fighting overly broad warrants…which it can only do because it has the money and clout to do so.

Also, how do you break up facebook? its one product. Oh right. Regional geolocking? thats what’ll fix facebook’s problems, different books for different countries.

And Microsoft? what do you do, break off the office team? Force them to develop three different operating systems for desktop tablet and mobile? How does that help consumers? They already cant fix several big malware hacks because they aren’t allowed to give you anti-malware software. You have to uninstall all other anti-malware products and wait three months unprotected before you can install the microsoft anti-malware product.

And samsung? What, are they abusing their dominance of the Smartphone market to up the price of TVs? how does that even work?

Finally…the Uk is also part of the EU…and has just as bad penetration by the NSA and the GCHQ. The latter is known to be violating UK and EU privacy laws. So how does creating European software neccisarily improve that situation?

Just another billionaire says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Monopolism and cartels

They’ll put all these charges off whatever they may be until they have acquired the sovereignty they lack in the global scale of things and become more hardened and hunkered down and nothing will happen in the end someone gets greased and someone does the greasing. Tell me something different.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Monopolism and cartels

….Turning an international, unified web presence into a geolocked, regional presence, which is the exact opposite of what we are looking for in an internet company.

I’m sorry, but that’s a bit of a straw man argument. That’s not what I said/meant. Forcing Google to cease sharing data between all its services as a matter of policy doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t work anymore. Google and Youtube were once separated and in my opinion, Youtube was doing better. Doesn’t preclude Youtube from sharing videos uploaded worldwide on Youtube, but it may come at the expense of single sign-on convenience. So be it.

And you might remember where google is actively fighting handing over data to the NSA and the courts, by moving to greater encryption and fighting overly broad warrants…

On the one hand, you are right. But I feel strongly that Google is playing both sides, for PR purposes. They have their revenue stream to protect, but then again, they are the most powerful tool in the NSA’s Prism toolbox.

which it can only do because it has the money and clout to do so.

Which is a problem masquerading as a solution..

And Microsoft? what do you do, break off the office team?

Yes.

As for breaking up the other companies, you misunderstood. I should have clarified and not left the impression that when I think a corporation becomes too big, breaking it up is always the best solution. There are several different measures which can be undertaken besides splitting up a company.

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/antitrust/legislation/legislation.html

Finally…the Uk is also part of the EU…and has just as bad penetration by the NSA and the GCHQ.

GCHQ showed its true colors with Operation Socialist and its attacks on Belgacom. They are as anti-European as it gets. The Snowden leaks actually revealed how hostile the UK is towards the EU and Brussels.

So frankly, I think we’re going to have to leave the UK behind, if UK citizens are unable or unwilling to stop these practices. If the UK adopts and abides by EU regulations that curb mass surveillance, that’s a plus for UK citizens in my view. But if they don’t want it and dig their heels, so be it.

Far be it from me to deny the odious role the UK and GCHQ have played in this dossier.

And yeah: even after all this, the surveillance machine may simply be regionalized at the expense of American/British access, we’re still stuck with contained EU mass surveillance. That is a problem, I agree.

JMT says:

Did he miss his own hypocrisy?

“The European Union should regulate Internet platforms in a way that allows a new generation of European operators to overtake the dominant U.S. players…”

So he doesn’t just want European companies to be able to compete fairly (which they already can), he actually want’s to make sure they beat the US companies via legislation. How can he not see the massive hypocrisy of wanting this outcome from anti-trust measures?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Did he miss his own hypocrisy?

It is realpolitik. Regulatory differences are how todays international monopolisation or corporate “ownership” of governments are avoided.

Removing regulation differences are therefore a prime target of large companies. That is how “trade agreements” work today, with ISDS being a way to further weaken governments in relations with large companies and the removal of regulatory differences is a way to make it easier for larger companies to grow even further and faster!

SMEs aren’t getting much out of these steps, except more competition and less political help in keeping the large companies from abusing their position.

The Google case should be solved in court and by arguments/evidence, not by nationalism (Oettinger) or the libertarian religion (we see on the other extreme).

DigDug says:

EU Proves that they are galactic-ally stupid.

Google does not have a Monopoly on search and advertising.

Let me repeat that sentence.

Google does NOT have a monopoly on search and advertising.

What the galactic-ally stupid idiots in charge of the EU don’t understand is that the only way Google has any power whatsoever in search and advertising is because THE PEOPLE want them to have it.

So you simpering twits that are trying to attack Google, all that you are really doing is attacking the choices made by your constituents.

Do you understand that at all?

Google only has more users using them for search because more people TRUST Google than any other search engine.

Google only has more advertising because more users trust Google for their results, so they see more advertisements through Google.

More web sites use Google for ad based revenue because more people CHOOSE Google than any other search engine.

I know it’s hard for you simpletons to think, what with one of your 2 brain cells misfiring on the failing search industry wannabe’s Kool-Aid, but get it through your thick skulls.

You’re messing with the choices that your people made.
You’re messing with your careers and futures as politicians.

You’re messing with your futures.

Wake the hell up, smell what you’re shoveling, step back, and throw all that made up horse shit back on the incompetent competitors who were trying to feed it to you, claiming it was caviar and prime rib.

DigDug says:

Re: Re: EU Proves that they are galactic-ally stupid.

From the article you linked..

Today, the European Union took the first step in that extraordinary process: EU parliament members voted in favour of breaking up Google in order to end its monopoly in search. In Europe, 90% of search results come from Google.

How is that Google’s fault?

Exactly, it isn’t. 90% of search results come from Google, because 90% of users CHOOSE to use Google to do their searches.

That’s like blaming Ford for GM’s lowered profits because they sold more cars than General Motors.

So all you did was prove my point, that the EU policy makers have their heads shoved so far up each other’s asses that they haven’t delivered oxygen to their brains in months.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: EU Proves that they are galactic-ally stupid.

You’re quote mining the article. It’s best read in its totality, as usual when dealing with quote mining.

Google has a natural monopoly. That’s true, but it has become a harmful natural monopoly.

It’s very common for corporations to establish monopolies naturally. That doesn’t make the monopoly any less harmful.

You act as if European consumers are headless chickens who cannot simultaneously have grievances with corporations they are using services from. They could “choose” to use a different service but there is little to “choose” from, because it is nearly impossible for significant competition to emerge naturally.

This is the nature of natural monopolies and regulation against natural monopolies. I’m sorry, but if I’m supposed to feel sympathy for a huge colossus of a corporation because it’s not allowed to have the 90% market share it has, then you suggest you try finding it for me between ‘r’ and ‘t’ in the dictionary.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 EU Proves that they are galactic-ally stupid.

Nice fairy tale. Would be even nicer if you could back your claims with some actual data – like how much more does the customer have to pay because of Google actions? If it does not cost me a dime, why should I care for some whining companies?

Or should we all believe you just because? As you reiterate your dislike of Google with no arguments whatsoever of any real harm to customers.

You claim there is (almost) nothing to choose from. Well, apparently US citizens are better than you in searching for alternatives. And there are some – bing, yahoo, duckduckgo, … What is a cost for the customer of change from Google to anything else? Close to 0. Possibly slight inconvenience at different user interface. So what is stopping European lemmings to switch? Especially in the light of article’s claims that Google’s search results are skewed? Maybe they are just good enough for people not to switch? Or maybe they just don’t care? But then – why should you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 EU Proves that they are galactic-ally stupid.

Would be even nicer if you could back your claims with some actual data – like how much more does the customer have to pay because of Google actions?

First, let me underscore that you do not get to set the terms as to what suffices to make the point. To let you do so would only allow you to construct a little hamster wheel for me run in.

Second, the illiteracy of your request is blinding, given the fact that the very article you’re commenting on contains the information you request. But I’ll oblige you this way:

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/apr/14/european-commission-antitrust-charges-google

So what is stopping European lemmings to switch?

Given the emotional diarrhea in your wording, what do you really care if they change? If you hate these customers so much, tell them to fuck off yourself. I can just sense the entrepreneur in you.

Especially in the light of article’s claims that Google’s search results are skewed? Maybe they are just good enough for people not to switch? Or maybe they just don’t care?

Why do you think good search results and commercially skewed are necessarily mutually exclusive?

But then – why should you?

Because if there’s one thing I despise, it’s that pompous effluvium of special privilege, that sort of exceptionalist, personal fable horse shit you exude that tells me you think American companies are the best thing since angel piss and above the law, including antitrust law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 EU Proves that they are galactic-ally stupid.

Speaking of “emotional diarrhea” – would you be kind enough to answer my question? In numbers, not your pathetic emotions? Please?
Because in all you said, and all that the Groniard produced, there is not a single mention of a single mark, a yen, a buck, or a pound of an actual loss to the customer.

So please, do your homework, then come back.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 EU Proves that they are galactic-ally stupid.

If these were viable alternatives I would have mentioned them. They’re not. They suck. And they’re unlikely to improve, because of Google’s natural monopoly, which further reinforces Google’s natural monopoly.

And should I mention how idiotic and ironic it is for you to use Google to make your point?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: EU Proves that they are galactic-ally stupid.

Unfortunately, since Mike Masnick shills for Google, he neglected to tell you that Google altered their results to favor their advertising revenue.

The EU considered that anti-competitive behavior, and Google will now pay a multi-billion dollar fine, be forced to make changes to their search engine, and continue to watch their stock price and margins stagnate.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: EU Proves that they are galactic-ally stupid.

Oh tell me about it, Mike is so in Google’s pocket, he would never post articles talking about how they’ve screwed up or acted badly.

… really, could you lot at least try and come up with some better ad homs? I know, I know, you may not be that creative, but really, reading the same old debunked rubbish is just boring, could you at least try to be a little bit more entertaining?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 EU Proves that they are galactic-ally stupid.

Which of course explains why rather than actually pointing out this ‘important info’ that’s being left out, something that might actually support your position, you instead just throw out an empty accusation and act as though that’s all that’s needed, followed by yet another ad hom.

Yes indeed, quite the compelling counter-argument you’ve presented there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Er...

>>Mr. Oettinger spoke of the need to “replace today’s Web search engines, operating systems and social networks” without naming any companies.
> regulators seem to think that they know how to better design a search engine or a social network than the companies who have actually been doing so.

Er… You missed “operating systems” in your remark. Browser Wars EU weren’t that long ago, and Microsoft Interoperability not that much longer ago.

It is unseemly to be cheering Google on but not Microsoft under the same conditions. Yes, Microsoft is a leprous hunchback that eats young companies and farts in public. But if your stance is “companies know better than regulators”, or even “freedom of the market”, you’ve a bit of crow waiting for you on the supper table.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Er...

Because Microsoft seemed mainly to be targeted because it is big, and not because of any actual harm to consumers. I mean, a version of windows without WMP? why? I dont use WMP, but how was WMP’s presence harming consumers? If your savy enough to not want to use WMP, you also know you can just download alternatives.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Er...

I can’t say I agree. Microsoft has a history of attempting to lock consumers in any way they can. Unlike Google, they had a >90% marketshare in the OS userspace and they’d been caught several times using that dominance as leverage to promote even further lockin vis a vis ancillary markets.

Google by contrast has at least three other competitors, one of which has more than enough clout to keep them on-track (Apple).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Er...

So, would you say it would be an accurate summation of your opinion that you wouldn’t have been averse to anti-trust action per se, if it actually led to a meaningful and beneficial outcome? Because what I’m getting from your article is actually more “Let the hand of the free market decide”, and to me that’s just naive at that point (the free market was already trending toward a homogenous outcome: Microsoft).

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Er...

So, would you say it would be an accurate summation of your opinion that you wouldn’t have been averse to anti-trust action per se, if it actually led to a meaningful and beneficial outcome?

Yes. I believe there’s a role for antitrust in situations where it is clear that there is an abusive monopoly that harms consumers.

the free market was already trending toward a homogenous outcome: Microsoft

I see little evidence to support that — and the results of the past decade or so seems to suggest that’s not at all what was happening. The world moved and Microsoft didn’t and Microsoft flopped.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Er...

Because what I’m getting from your article is actually more “Let the hand of the free market decide”, and to me that’s just naive at that point…

Personally, I pretty much despise Microsoft and their products, (I think this more of because of my anti-authority issues than any thing else, though) but I still have never agreed with the anti-trust actions against them, with a couple of caveats:

– Internet Explorer should have never been intregrated so far into the OS that removing it complete became impossible.

– UEFI secure boot protocol should be curtailed. When I purchase hardware, it’s mine to load whatever OS I desire. Full Stop.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Er...

“When I purchase hardware, it’s mine to load whatever OS I desire. Full Stop.”

In all fairness, right now, Microsoft requires OEMs to allow UEFI to be turned off in the BIOS. They removed that requirement for Window 10, which is a horrible, sucky move. Nonetheless, OEMs can continue to allow UEFI to be disabled if they wish.

So if you’ve purchased hardware that UEFI has locked you out of, the proper blame goes to the OEM, not Microsoft.

woodchuck says:

Cuddling Corporate America

Don’t think of it as some kind of general anti-Americanism in the EU. Otherwise it would make no sense that we Europeans are offering an almost tax-free paradise for U.S. corporations. Apple pays less than 2 percent corporate tax on their enormous European earnings, Amazon even less than 1 percent. Well, this (extremely sophisticated and perfectly legal) tax dodging may do harm to ordinary European and American taxpayers likewise … But don’t tell me that we don’t normally cuddle corporate America.

Gordon says:

I loathe Google.

I hate their creepy surveillance. I hate the way they run YouTube. I hate the fact that they’ve tried to get everyone to take a Google Plus account. Google Maps is really slow. Street View is awkward and annoying to use.

And much like the EU, I hate the fact that they drove around hoovering up wi-fi data, then lied about having done so, then lied about knowing they did it, then lied about doing it deliberately. Then refused point blank to delete that data when an EU court told them to.

Not a smart move against a supranational government with a history of making member states re-run referendums until they give the ‘correct’ result. ‘No’ isn’t in their lexicon.

BUT…

I also loathe the EU with its meddling, bullying nonsense, like the stupid ‘browser choice’ thing that was foisted upon us, and the cookie warning that greets you on the first visit to each webpage, or if you visit it after deleting cookies, and appropriately enough none of the websites allow you to say ‘no’ and continue using the site.

Damn the lot of them.

Case says:

Congratulations, you fell for some quote mining

…and don’t tell me you acted in good faith.The WSJ running a variation of “Evil gummint people want to regulate free businesses to death. Also Euros hate us for being Americans, go USA!” is like the newest miracle cure reported by the Daily Fail. Yet in your confirmation bias you couldn’t be bothered to simply read the actual source. Which would have revealed the following was never said:

Mr. Oettinger spoke of the need to “replace today’s Web search engines, operating systems and social networks” without naming any companies.

In his actual speech, the pertinent part reads:

A great challenge is also Europe’s position in the development of the next digital platforms that will gradually replace the current Internet and mobile platforms.

Emphasis mine. He wasn’t talking about the wish to kick current platforms out of the market, but the fact that all platforms go the way of Myspace sooner or later.

As for “on the same day”, you might want to compare the date on that speech with the date on the press release about the investigation.

Also, what exactly makes the famously clueless Oettinger (of “we can’t have net neutrality because it would lead to car crashes” fame) a “technocrat”? The fact that he can probably operate a light switch?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Congratulations, you fell for some quote mining

In the link you provided, about 2/3 of the way down, is this:

Industry in Europe should take the lead and become a major contributor to the next generation of digital platforms that will replace today’s Web search engines, operating systems and social networks.

Wendy Cockcroft says:

I fail to see how being the dominant player invites anti-trust legal action at all. If Google was engaged in anti-competitive activities, fair dues, but other search engines exist.

What is Oettinger’s solution? Hamstringing Google so it only operates in English? Or breaking it up into its component businesses, then perhaps demanding some kind of walled garden to make it more like certain other ISPs?

The man has no clue. That Google sometimes forgets to not be evil, it doesn’t actively stop other search engines from operating. Heck, it’s even got Bing at the top of its search results. I can’t help wondering if Microsoft is involved in this somehow. They’ve got a history of fighting with Google.

http://www.networkworld.com/article/2196831/applications/the-10-bloodiest-battles-microsoft-and-google-fought-in-2010.html

I’m no Google fangirl but I do believe in fair play. This is emphatically not fair. Get them for tracking our movements online by all means, but not for being good at search.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Always Suspected Something Wrong With This Company

G. at least sells anonymized, aggregate information; no names, no contact info, minimal demographic info. Do you also avoid Facebook, Twitter, Verizon and AT&T, among many many others who’re far less likely to be trustworthy?

I don’t use any Google services except YouTube, but I’ve never understood why people have such a hate on for them. I put it down to simple envy.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Why go after Google

Despite TechDirt’s long held Google cheerleader musings,

Yeah, tell me about it!

Google’s Ridiculous AdSense Morality Police Strike Again

Disappointing: Google Not Yet Requiring Phone Makers To Encrypt By Default

Google Gets Prude: Says No More Adult Content On Blogger

YouTube’s Offer To Musicians Isn’t As Bad As Some Believe, But YouTube Should Still Change Its Policies

YouTube Briefly Shuts Down Blizzard’s Own YouTube Channel For Copyright Infringement

Google Bans Disconnect.me App From Play Store Based On Vague Guidelines

Big Tech Companies Agree To Pay Up Over Hiring Collusion
Google Rejects Postal For Google Play Store Due To Violence; GTA Games Still Available For Purchase

If you think this site has “long held Google cheerleader musings” then I think you may have reading comprehension problems…

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Why go after Google

That’s right folks, Masnick thinks these 7 softballs make up for years of Google cheerleading posts. lol

Um. No. The list is a lot longer than that, but I recognize that no amount of actual evidence about my distrust of Google will make you believe whatever strawman you’ve built up in your head, so go have fun with it.

It does make me wonder, however, why you feel the need to always flat out misrepresent my position. Does my real understanding of these issues threaten you so much?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Why go after Google

I suspect this is part of a common misunderstanding I see from some of the more vocal critics here… they seem to think that one can only be totally for or totally against things. In that view, saying anything that indicates you agree with a certain aspect of something means that you are totally for that thing.

It’s a ridiculous, and ridiculously common, point of view.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Why go after Google

I’ll side with Professor Clemons on this one.

Not me. I read through that article. His arguments boil down to three basic themes:

1) “Google promotes their products higher on the platforms that they created and maintain.”

Does Clemons also feel that General Motors should be forced to display Hyundais and Toyotas in their dealership showrooms? If not, why?

2) “Google’s Android platform is really popular.”

Clemons seems to think that Google and Android are some kind of “walled garden” type of thing, which isn’t true. Android is pretty much the most open mobile platform available. Compared to Apple’s continued “walled garden” philosophy, Android is like Montana and Apple is a backyard greenhouse with armed guards.

3) “Google is really successful and has the audacity to maintain that level of success by continuing to compete in the marketplace.”

Where is it written that a hugely successful company MUST stop competing because it left it’s competitors in the dust?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Clemons and his theories.

He writes “I expect, and truly hope, that the European Commission will provide meaningful relief to every website owner and every content owner whose content has been plundered by Google. Google may not be required to pay damages. But future plundering will be stopped.”

Because he is an utter moron, no less. There is a simple way for stopping “plundering” – there is this small file called “robots.txt”, that will stop all the “plundering” cold.

OpenMinded says:

Excerpts from FTC Staff Report on Google’s Search Practices

“We are faced with a set of facts that can most plausibly be accounted for by a narrative of mixed motives: one in which Google’s course of conduct was premised on its desire to innovate and to produce a high quality search product in the face of competition, blended with the desire to direct users to its own vertical offerings (instead of those of rivals) so as to increase its own revenues. Indeed, the evidence paints a complex portrait of a company working toward an overall goal of maintaining its market share by providing the best user experience, while simultaneously engaging in tactics that resulted in harm to many vertical competitors, and likely helped to entrench Google’s monopoly power over search and search advertising.”

It’s my view that Google has avoided antitrust rulings in the U.S. due to their lobbying and insider connections of former employees now directly working in the U.S. government. Don’t be evil my ass…

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