In this week’s episode of “How France tries to hurt Google,” the French government has come up with a great plan around making sure that search engine users are aware of alternatives: by forcing all search engines who “have a significant impact on the digital economy” to provide links to three other search engines, of which one of them must be French.
The bill, which singularly targets Google (due to its dominant search market share in France), is the latest attempt to “tailler” Mountain View’s most precious gem. It masks itself as a workaround to a lack of successful anti-trust suits propelled by the EU and FTC in recent years. (See the full amendment in French here)
The proposed law is an amendment to the ever-growing “Loi Macron,” which I’ve taken to comparing to France’s ObamaCare – like ObamaCare, other politicians are jumping on Macron’s desire to get this pushed through by adding amendments with their own agendas.
Who is behind the Open Internet Project?
The amendment has been put forth and highly supported through pr and communication efforts by the Open Internet Project (http://www.openinternetproject.net/)
Underneath their good intentions, many of the founding members of the OIP are companies who have already been very outspoken against Google – in fact, if it was possible to have a hate-group dedicated to a single company, the OPI would be it. You need only look at their twitter feed to see that the OIP has an obsession with Google.
Google has already publicly responded to many of the allegations made against it by OIP (see the above video) as well as http://googlepolicyeurope.blogspot.fr/2015/04/the-search-for-harm.html
The OIP largely represented the Franco-German anti-Google initiative – or, as they call it, “restoring Internet neutrality.” The OIP is largely made up of players who are either direct competitors to Google (Qwant, invested in by Axel Springer, or Evermaps), and/or companies who have been negatively effected by Google’s updates to its search algorithms.
The proposed amendment would essentially force Google to prominently display links (read: advertisements) for, let’s say, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Qwant, in order to be compliant with the proposed bill. The justification behind such a proposition is that Search occupies a dominant role in how people access the Internet that it must be regulated, and Internet users must be aware of their choices.
“ We have owned the internet. Our companies have created it, expanded it, perfected it in ways that they can’t compete. And oftentimes what is portrayed as high-minded positions on issues sometimes is just designed to carve out some of their commercial interests ” – Barack Obama, ReCode.net Interview
Barack Obama may have had a point in his interview with ReCode earlier this year when he stated that, often, what is masked as an effort to keep the Internet neutral, is, in actuality, just an attempt at the impacted to affect the impactor.