July 23, 2018

EU Fines Google

“European antitrust regulators fined Google a record 4.34 billion euro ($5 billion) on Wednesday and ordered it to stop using its popular Android mobile operating system to block rivals, a ruling which the U.S. tech company said it would appeal.” (Reuters)

See past issues

The left is divided, with some skeptical of the EU’s motives while others support stronger measures to rein in the tech giants.

Skeptics: “In imposing this admittedly arbitrary penalty... the European Commission is threatening to harm consumers, impede innovation, make life difficult for developers, and undermine the security and usability of applications, all in pursuit of thoroughly implausible goals. If it is solving any problems along the way, it has yet to explain how.”

Bloomberg

Supporters: “The argument that the E.U. is going after U.S. companies for self-interested reasons doesn’t match the facts. It would be more accurate to say that successive Administrations in Washington have deliberately overlooked mounting evidence that the large U.S. tech firms have abused their monopoly power, and that the victims of these alleged abuses, including many American companies, have been forced to take their grievances across the Atlantic.”

The New Yorker

According to the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy, “The fines get bigger and the fines get more divorced from antitrust law. It now seems EU thinks Silicon Valley is its private ATM.” But the research director at the Roosevelt Institute argues, “regulators need to be forward-thinking to prevent Google and other tech giants from solidifying future dominance in nascent industries such as self-driving cars.”

USA Today

Finally, there are differing views on the effectiveness of the fine. Some point out that “most users are already completely hooked on Google services. They are going to download the apps anyway." But others think “the ruling could encourage regulators in Europe and spark more complaints over the behavior of Google and other tech companies... content creators could be the next to take on Google over its handling of intellectual property.”

CNN

The right opposes the decision, arguing that it will harm consumers.

The right opposes the decision, arguing that it will harm consumers.

“While U.S. regulators rely strongly on evidence of consumer harm, the EC operates under the notion that, even in the absence of consumer harm, if a dominant firm exists in the market, then it must behave ‘fairly’ — a nebulous concept that opens the door to micromanagement by government regulators designing markets as they see fit.”

The American Spectator

“EU law places a particular onus on companies that dominate a sector and tries to promote competition even if only potential harm can be shown...The approach contrasts with U.S. law and its enforcers, which focuses on demonstrated harm rather than market structure.”

Wall Street Journal

Moreover, “the EU defined the market very narrowly, as licensable smartphone operating systems. This definition excludes Apple’s iOS, which the company does not license... That means that the EU has ignored a major source of competition in its competition analysis.”

National Review

Perhaps most importantly, “in recent years, Europe has struggled to build tech companies and industries that can compete with the formidable Silicon Valley, leading to some suspicions that the EU is trying to level the playing field, or at least give their domestic firms a leg up.”

Daily Caller

Not every trade war involves tariffs. The European Union’s record $5 billion fine against Google for antitrust violations involving its Android operating system is protectionism masquerading as consumerism... To accept the EU’s case... one has to ignore the reality of the modern internet, where users easily and frequently download millions of apps some 100 billion times a year.”

American Enterprise Institute

On the bright side...

Millennials outraged after baseball team advertises 'Millennial Night' with avocados, participation ribbons and napping stations.

Fox News

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