This is a follow-up comment for my dear friends that have been discussing with me the Proposal for the EU Data Protection Regulation. In our parliament simulation, we had the honour to welcome a very strong participant representing a Google lobbyist that was hard to deal with (hi Lois
In my candidature, I chose the lobbyist role as my second choice, but I was eventually chosen to represent a British Conservatives politician in the ECR faction1. In this role, I mostly agreed with the Google lobbyists.
However, I’m a bit worried that some other participants might have been hoodwinked and really think that Google might be a honourable enterprise that fights for freedom of expression and wants all the best for the internet users.
Of course, there are cases where Google is doing a good job. One example might be the acquisition of the VP8 codec from On2 Technologies just to release the intellectual property (in this case: source code) under a free software license publicly accompanied with a irrevocable patent promise. Until today, this is part of the most efficient widespread video file format that serves a free exchange of videos and thus a more open internet.
Unfortunately, this is not the end of the story. Last week, the EU commissioner “Margrethe Vestager unveiled a formal complaint against Google, marking the most significant tech case since Brussels took on Microsoft a decade ago” (source: Financial Times).
This can only be a first step. It has been a while that I’m waiting for Brussels to make a case to put the smart phone operating systems and their respective application stores in question, as its close bundling prevents successfully competition in this domain that gets every day more important. This has yet to be done.
To make it even more clear: Back in the PC area, everyone could sell software that could be installed on Microsoft Windows PC without the need to ask for permission. Nowadays, it is actually very difficult to allow consumers to install an application that was not accepted by the Google or Apple play store. Useless to say that the selection process seems to be arbitrary to the outside and cannot be challenged. So this is clearly a step backwards.
I consider this behaviour indeed to be evil. There are some other movements of Google that support this impression:
- Google urges indie music artists to accept unacceptable conditions on Youtube due to coupling with their Music Streaming services. Read the Artist’s Blog or the Guardian.
- Google makes it hard to open alternative App stores.
- Google started Android as open source, but moves silently back to closed source.
- Google Search is penalising legal content to support entertainment industries.
It might be not the most easiest to read or understand, but give it a try. Smart phones are part of our daily life and the economy and policy behind it should be picked out as a central theme in schools already. For most of you, this is already to late. I ask you therefore to read it nevertheless—as it were homework
PS: Facebook isn’t better. This is for another time.
That is the “European Conservatives and Reformists” with e.g. 20 Tories from the UK, and 7 deputies for the “Alternative for Germany”. ↩