Cleland served as Deputy United States Coordinator for Communications and Information Policy in the George H. W. Bush Administration. Eight Congressional subcommittees have sought Cleland’s expert testimony and Institutional Investor twice ranked him the #1 independent analyst in his field. Scott Cleland has been profiled in Fortune, National Journal, Barrons, WSJ’s Smart Money, and Investors Business Daily. Ten publications have featured his op-eds. For a full bio see: www.ScottCleland.com.
Latest posts by Scott Cleland (see all)
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The European Parliament reportedly is scheduled to vote this week on a political non-binding resolution urging the European Commission to “enforce EU competition rules decisively” against search engines, i.e. Google.
What is going on?
In a nutshell, this vote has three big effective implications. It is a political revolt and declaration of Independence from Google’s virtual hegemony. It is a rejection of former EC Vice President Almunia’s gross mishandling of the Google competition case. And it is a vote for a European “single digital market” to promote European economic growth and job creation.
A Political Revolt & Declaration of Independence
First, this European Parliament vote is effectively a political revolt and a EuropeanDeclaration of Independence from Google’s de facto virtual colonialization of the European digital marketplace and Google’s exceptional data dominance, and hegemony, over Europeans’ personal information.
Google dominates >90% of the European search market, and apparently has abused its search dominance to proliferate Google’s dominance over personal data, digital advertising, mobile, maps and other key European digital markets.
Personal data “is the new currency of the Internet” and Google is “a business with a huge, huge, huge market share,” testified Margrethe Vestager, the new EC Vice President for Competition before the European Parliament, who has sweeping enforcement power over how Google competes, operates, and transacts in the European Union. Vice President Vestager added that “particular alertness is needed to ensure that dominant players respect the rules” in the digital sector.
The European Parliament’s vote serves as a political referendum on Google’s treatment of European citizens as virtual vassals of a virtual sovereign Google – without any real rights to know, own or control their private data that Google routinely seizes without European consumers’ meaningful consent.
Europeans appreciate that Google has repeatedly defied Europe’s data protection authorities’ enforcement that Europeans have a right to opt out of Google’s consolidation of their personal data across sixty Google services.
They also are aware of Google’s passive-aggressive opposition to the European High Court’s right to be forgotten ruling by effectively encouraging Europeans to evade the Court’s decision by going to Google.com rather than their own countries domain. And they appreciate Google’s strong opposition to storing Europeans’ private data physically in the EU under EU sovereign jurisdiction.
Rejection of VP Almunia’s Mishandling of Google Competition Case
Second, this European Parliament vote is also an opportunity for Europe’s leaders to formally and strongly repudiate the mishandling of the EC’s Google competition case over the last four years by the former EC VP for Competition Joaquin Almunia. VP Almunia repeatedly refused to prosecute Google despite his repeated public warnings that he would prosecute Google for its alleged four abuses of its dominance.
Mr. Almunia’s proposed Google settlement mimicked the U.S. FTC’s weak Google settlement, which was based on weaker U.S. antitrust law.
It also appeared to be a unilateral surrender of European sovereignty to Google’s virtual sovereignty because: first it did not conclude Google’s >90% share was in fact dominant; second it did not conclude Google did anything wrong despite its findings of four abuses of dominance; third it would impose no fine or sanction that would deter future abuses; fourth it would provide no relief for those harmed by Google’s many abuses; and finally it would have handcuffed future EC enforcement going forward by shutting down any additional Google search investigation for five years despite growing search complaints of Google abuses.
Support for a European Single Digital Market
In order to form a more perfect European Union, one of the top priorities of the new European Commission is the creation of a European “single digital market” in order to generate economic and job growth in the years ahead.
EU nations, including their citizens, businesses, and media, now understand that for all practical purposes they are virtually-dependent on Google to an exceptional extent to find and monetize information online, and for many mobile and map services.
As effective digital colonies of Google, their exceptional online dependency on Google is in stark contrast to other sovereign nations which have chosen to develop indigenous search engines like: the Czech Republic (Seznam has 45% share), South Korea (Naver has 72% share), China (Baidu has76% share), and Russia (Yandex has 62% share).
Simply, this vote for a single digital market is about Europe reclaiming sovereign control over Europe’s economy, culture, and data protection, because Google has effectively seized virtual sovereign control over much of Europe via its dominance, abuses of dominance and seizure of private data without the meaningful consent of individual Europeans.
In sum, Europe’s political leaders are wisely creating political unity and legitimacy around addressing the grand problem of reining in Google’s proliferating dominance and abuses of dominance before the European Commission seriously challenges Google with legal enforcement action in the months and years ahead.
European leaders understand this effectively is an epic battle over who will rule sovereign over Europe’s virtual world and digital marketplace, Europeans or Google?
It also is a fight that neither Europe nor Google can afford to lose.
No one should expect Google to acquiesce. It is antithetical to everything in their being.
With this upcoming vote for European political consensus around Europe’s single digital market, Europe is making it much harder for Google to continue its longstanding chauvinism and imperiousness that Google knows better than Europeans what is best for Europe and Europeans.