EU fuels battle against Google
The European Commission filed anti-trust charges against Google on Wednesday. The search engine operator is abusing its market dominance to the disadvantage of its rivals, EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said yesterday. The lawsuit sets an important precedent for online business, some commentators write approvingly. For others, the anti-trust battle against Google is just a sideshow.
Brussels creates precedent for online business
The outcome of the dispute over abuse of market dominance at Google Shopping will be a landmark decision for other online business segments too, the conservative daily El Mundo points out, urging the EU Commission to stick to its guns: "The outcome of the conflict will be vital because it will set a precedent for other Internet business segments in which the search engine's behaviour could be controversial, for example air travel, tourism and maps. Hopefully Brussels will keep up the pressure and defend the citizens' interests as well as those of other innovative companies. The latter need the guarantee of fair competition that will enable them to contribute to the development of the information society in Europe. Moreover the investigation needs to be sped up, because in a business as dynamic as the Internet, five years are an eternity."
Lawsuit will provide much needed clarity
Although Google should not be wrongly condemned the EU Commission's lawsuit against the Internet giant is a welcome step, the liberal business paper Financial Times believes: "Google can legitimately argue that there are plenty of search engines available to users, including Microsoft's Bing, Yahoo, Quora and DuckDuckGo. No one is forced to consume its services. ... It would be wrong for Google to be hamstrung by regulators merely because its services are superior to those offered by rivals. But the commission is right to watch it with care. What is now needed is a clear process to bring this important investigation to a decisive conclusion. If Ms Vestager can deliver one, she will deserve whatever plaudits she receives."
Google miles ahead of sluggish bureaucracy
The European Commission has taken far too long to tackle the problems with Google, the conservative daily Lidové noviny criticises, describing its current decision as unhelpful: "After Wednesday's decision many Europeans will say: at last someone is finally slapping down the big bad Internet monopolist. But unfortunately the Commission isn't tackling the burning issues like protection of the private sphere, data and users. All it's focussing on is whether the competition between the US company and its rivals on the Old Continent is fair. … It may well be that Google is exploiting its dominant market position in the Internet world. … But the EU Commission's inquiry has gone on for four years already. Now sanctions will no doubt follow and then a court battle that goes on for years. Yet the Internet is changing every day. Decisions on five and even ten year-old problems won't help here."
EU needs its own Silicon Valley
It will take more than a lawsuit against Google to save the digital market in the EU, the state-owned daily Wiener Zeitung comments: "Google will pay. In the worst case the fine will amount to the company's profits from one quarter. Microsoft also had no problems paying a similar fine when its time came. But what comes next? Europe will continue to be technologically dependent on America and Asia. The merger between what's left of Nokia and Alcatel is still in its infancy - nevertheless the EU must encourage its growth. To build up a location like Silicon Valley you need technological heavyweights. It's the big US multinationals that provide the small start-ups there with the funds they need. ... And that only widens the digital gap. So the EU must strive to create such conditions as quickly as possible in Europe. Because the fact is that a large number of the innovators and inventors in Silicon Valley actually come from Europe."