Here we go again – the EU picks a fight with Google

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Here we go again - the EU picks a fight with Google

By Steve Eggleston

Stop me if you heard this one before — the Euro­pean Union, flush with soverign polit­i­cal power but essen­tially bank­rupt in the tech­nol­ogy world, tar­gets a dom­i­nant Amer­i­can tech­nol­ogy com­pany to force it to “de-​couple” a major part of its busi­ness model from the rest of the company’s busi­ness model. This is actu­ally the third time the EU has at least threat­ened this, and while the first two times, it suc­cess­fully tar­geted Microsoft, this time, they’re tar­get­ing Google. The open­ing para­graph of Forbes con­trib­u­tor Tim Worstall’s piece:

Or at least that’s what is being sug­gested in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, that search engines should be forced to be divorced from other busi­ness activ­i­ties. It’s also true that they don’t directly men­tion Google but that’s obvi­ously who it is aimed at. For­tu­nately, as a mat­ter of pub­lic pol­icy this isn’t going to go very far. Because the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment doesn’t actu­ally have the right to pro­pose either actions or leg­is­la­tion. Only the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion can actu­ally pro­pose some­thing and then the Par­lia­ment gets to say yea or nay to it.

Before you laugh this threat away like Worstall does, I am com­pelled to point out that the EU not only got Microsoft to unbun­dle Win­dows Media Player and, later, Inter­net Explorer from the var­i­ous ver­sions of Win­dows sold in Europe, but that the EU enriched itself by nearly $2 bil­lion from Microsoft’s coffers.

The inter­est­ing bit of the EU’s lat­est attack on Amer­i­can tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies comes later in Worstall’s col­umn. It seems the Ger­man press got miffed that Google News was “steal­ing” their arti­cles by, get this, excerpt­ing the arti­cles and link­ing to the full ver­sions, with the net effect of dri­ving traf­fic to the Ger­man press’ web­sites. Their attempt to use the Ger­man Bun­destag to show Google what’s what failed spec­tac­u­larly when Google sim­ply stopped link­ing to them instead of pay­ing the suddenly-​legalized extor­tion. They then got the Ger­man mem­bers of the EU bureau­cracy involved, and here we are.

I’m sure there’s a les­son for the “estab­lish­ment” press here. On a related note, do read Worstall’s piece for the expla­na­tion of why decou­pling Google’s search engine from the rest of its busi­ness is “insane”.

By Steve Eggleston

Stop me if you heard this one before – the European Union, flush with soverign political power but essentially bankrupt in the technology world, targets a dominant American technology company to force it to “de-couple” a major part of its business model from the rest of the company’s business model. This is actually the third time the EU has at least threatened this, and while the first two times, it successfully targeted Microsoft, this time, they’re targeting Google. The opening paragraph of Forbes contributor Tim Worstall’s piece:

Or at least that’s what is being suggested in the European Parliament, that search engines should be forced to be divorced from other business activities. It’s also true that they don’t directly mention Google but that’s obviously who it is aimed at. Fortunately, as a matter of public policy this isn’t going to go very far. Because the European Parliament doesn’t actually have the right to propose either actions or legislation. Only the European Commission can actually propose something and then the Parliament gets to say yea or nay to it.

Before you laugh this threat away like Worstall does, I am compelled to point out that the EU not only got Microsoft to unbundle Windows Media Player and, later, Internet Explorer from the various versions of Windows sold in Europe, but that the EU enriched itself by nearly $2 billion from Microsoft’s coffers.

The interesting bit of the EU’s latest attack on American technology companies comes later in Worstall’s column. It seems the German press got miffed that Google News was “stealing” their articles by, get this, excerpting the articles and linking to the full versions, with the net effect of driving traffic to the German press’ websites. Their attempt to use the German Bundestag to show Google what’s what failed spectacularly when Google simply stopped linking to them instead of paying the suddenly-legalized extortion. They then got the German members of the EU bureaucracy involved, and here we are.

I’m sure there’s a lesson for the “establishment” press here. On a related note, do read Worstall’s piece for the explanation of why decoupling Google’s search engine from the rest of its business is “insane”.