EU to Google: How to dismantle European search engines in 13 steps

Mrs Vestager will have to finish her welcome coffee earlier than previewed and take action on the Google case promptly. The voices of the Parliament show that there is not time for further delay it seems. Margrethe Vestager is the new Commissioner designate for Competition at the European Commission (EP Audiovisual Services, 02/10/2014)

Mrs Vestager will have to finish her welcome coffee earlier than previewed and take action on the Google case promptly. The voices of the Parliament show that there is no time for further delay. Margrethe Vestager is the new Commissioner designated for Competition at the European Commission (EP Audiovisual Services, 02/10/2014)

It seems that the search engine thriller that we are watching with horror in the Old Continent goes on. Last week the Sting reported on how parliamentarians were planning to “break up with reality in the Google antitrust case”. This week we are counting the votes and the list of “guidelines” to Google and all other search engines that are doing business in Europe.

On Thanksgiving the European Parliament decided to show its teeth to the US giant, Google. With a vote of 384 to 174 and 56 abstentions our good politicians voted in favour of the resolution for “consumer rights in the digital market”. Although the document does not mention the word “Google”, it calls the European Commission to urgently “consider proposals aimed at unbundling search engines from other commercial services”. And this is nothing but the notorious proposed break-up that the Sting touched last week.

It has never happened before that the EU parliament interferes directly with an antitrust case treated by the European Commission. Obviously tremendous lobby pressure by European publishers and competitors like Microsoft has ‘finally’ paid off. The 90% market share of Google in the European market seems to be more than bothering for some.

Allegedly the US digital company is using its predominant position in the market to promote its own products (Google ads/shop) and does not give a slight chance to Microsoft and smaller companies to play ball. As we have followed closely in this newspaper, the case has been let linger for 4 years by the previous Commissionner, Mr Joaquin Almunia, without any conclusion despite the pressure. Now it is up to the new Commissoner, Mrs Margrethe Vestager, to handle this time bomb that was handed in her hands. As of now she needs to respond to the urge of the European Parliament that ““indexation, evaluation, presentation and ranking by search engines must be unbiased and transparent”.

#Righttobeforgotten the second slap

Moreover, the Parliament’s pledge for the Commission to do what sounds impossible, break two business units of an American 60bn dollars company in two, was not enough. Google turned also the other cheek this week to receive another slap with the publication of the “guidelines” that the search engines need to apply on the “right to be forgotten” cases. In a 90% Google market this is inescapably considered as a second attack against the silicon valley company.

Europe’s Article 29 Working Party composed by European data protection authorities issued 13 criteria to make the job of search engines easier while assessing which link is right to be forgotten and which one is ‘right to be remembered’. The reader of the Sting certainly follows the “right to be forgotten” case, initiated last Spring by a Spanish citizen’s claim to the European Court of Justice to erase some non updated info on his debts listed on Google results.

The matter since then produced international debate on freedom of speech and search engine neutrality and certainly these 13 criteria published have spurred additional criticism around the globe. Till now, in the past six months, Google has received some 174.000 requests for results’ exclusion by persons or companies on more than 600,000 links, while the company has managed to remove 40% of the requested results.

One of the cornerstone added value that these criteria bring to the ECJ’ s decision of last May, is the fact that Google and the peer are now called to extend these 13 criteria to .com domains and not only to local ones like was done in the past months, e.g. .fr (France) or .de (Germany). This means that the EU demands from search engines to apply this #righttobeforgotten paradigm globally. Can anyone grasp the chaotic implications of something like that?

What is more, Europe’s Article 29 Working Party in their document they guide the search engines to spot the “public interest” in every case that appears. Is it the job of search engines to do that? Further, among the 13 “rules”  it is very interesting to see that the EU is explicitly against the search engine to show the result for which the user has requested exclusion but not against the media source to show this information. So, the source can still contain this “bad info” that the search engine needs to omit?

Regulation like no other

All in all, it is clear that the anti-Google sentiment is fierce in Brussels and to a certain extent justified. Protecting consumers’ rights and fair competition is understandable. However, this unprecedented direct involvement of the European Parliament in an antitrust case raises some questions. Especially when it is almost synchronized with the “guidelines” issued by this advisory body, branched by the European Commission.

Are we moving towards a strictly regulated search engine market? If it is for the best of the European consumer, let’s do so. However, should search engines be regulated like any other industry? When freedom of speech and internet neutrality is at stake the matter should not be taken for granted. It is not just a matter of how to liberate a market and create turnover from other companies’ growth but it is also about how to make sure that the filtering pattern that is followed here does not grow exponentially and to unknown directions.

That would be the end of a free dynamic Internet and we will need another Tim Berners-Lee to discover another free, dynamic and truly neutral new media network in the near future.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

25 years after population conference, women still face challenges to ‘well-being and human rights’, says UN chief

South Sudan: ‘Outraged’ UN experts say ongoing widespread human rights violations may amount to war crimes

This is the most sustainable way to use fashion – and it’s not renting clothes

The first new university in the UK for 40 years is taking a very different approach to education

EU to manage external borders against the will of member states; Greece to be the first target

US announcement on breaking ties with the World Health Organisation: Statement by the President of the Commission Ursula von der Leyen and High Representative/ Vice-President Josep Borrell

Can we balance conservation and development? Science says yes

Urgent action needed to address growing opioid crisis

UN ‘financial crisis,’ years in the making, Guterres tells budget body, proposes solutions

The Great Reset needs great leaders to help the most vulnerable

UN Envoy ‘confident’ deal can be reached to avert further violence around key Yemeni port city

Brands can be a force for good and for growth. Here’s how

European Court rules that ECB’s OMT program of 2012 is OK; not a word from Germany about returning the Greek 2010 courtesy

These are the countries that eat the most meat

How young entrepreneurs should be supported: what assistance should governments provide?

This is how Middle Eastern retailers can keep up with e-commerce

We don’t know how autonomous vehicles will depreciate – and that’s a problem

D-Day for Grexit is today and not Friday; Super Mario is likely to kill the Greek banks still today

To be fair or to be sustainable? That is the (retirement) question

Main results of EU-Japan summit which took place on 25/04/2019 in Brussels

As human caravan moves through Mexico, ‘full respect’ needed for national control of borders: UN chief

Hurdles in the way of vaccinating one and all against COVID-19-reviewing the challenges for vaccination against COVID-19

This challenge is advancing education solutions to help students thrive

Tackle ‘tsunami of hatred’ across the world urges Guterres, to counter anti-Semitism, racism and intolerance

A comprehensive strategy for Eurozone’s long term growth gains momentum

How Finland is fighting fake news – in the classroom

Myanmar and UN agriculture agency agree framework to improve nutrition and food security

‘Think beyond farm jobs’ to reach sustainable development, UN agriculture chief advises African youth

Coronavirus: following Commission’s call, platforms remove millions of misleading ads

Brexit is happening now but the UK hasn’t really assessed the impact of a “no-deal” divorce

Tanzania’s Dual Burden

Election 2019: New, Updated seat projection for new Parliament

State aid: Commission approves German nation-wide scheme to support deployment of Gigabit networks in Germany

The European Parliament x-rays the troika’s doings

UN ‘prioritizing needs’, ramping up aid, as Hurricane Dorian continues to batter the Bahamas

Coronavirus: Commission presents practical guidance on implementing the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU

COP25: ‘Signals of hope’ multiplying in face of global climate crisis, insists UN chief Guterres

European Parliament, Council Presidency and Commission make progress towards a political agreement on new EU rules for attracting highly qualified employees from third countries

4 key trends on how COVID has impacted women in business

Sudan: UN rights chief alarmed over ‘excessive force’, alleged use of live fire against protestors

TTIP’s 11th round starts in Miami but EU-US businesses see no sunny side

DRC ‘calm but tense’ as country awaits presidential election result

Memoirs from a unique trip to China: “my new old dragon” (Part I)

‘No country, no region’ can tackle global challenges alone says UN’s Mohammed

Donor countries set international standard for preventing sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment in development sector

EU Parliament: The surplus countries must support growth

European Youth calls on European Council for urgent action on “humanitarian crisis” and questions the EU/Turkey deal respect of human rights

Indian cities are running out of water

Every bite of burger boosts harmful greenhouse gases: UN Environment Agency

90% of European Jews say antisemitism is getting worse

‘Being open about my mental health created a better work culture’

Here are five tips to make your message clear in a crowded world

Catalan Pro-Independence vote: how many hits can Brussels sustain at the same time?

Longer hours, more emails and shorter meetings – working from home in the time of COVID

Taxation: Commission refers Poland to Court for failing to remove certain tax exemptions on the use of energy products by highly polluting businesses

EU should set goal to end homelessness by 2030

Powering through the pandemic

5 ways the WTO can make investment easier and boost sustainable development

Sacrifice of fallen ‘blue helmet’ to be honoured with UN’s highest peacekeeping award

Climate change brings a host of other risks for businesses

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s