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.