Not Feeling Lucky: Why Europe’s Antitrust Charges Against Google Won’t Stick
Regulators around the world have grown increasingly uncomfortable with the way business is being done on the Internet. From Brussels to Buenos Aires, they are most frustrated with Google, far and away the most popular search engine and advertising platform. As the company has evolved, expanding outward from its core search engine product, it has come to challenge a range of other firms and threaten their business models. This creative destruction has, in turn, caused antitrust regulators — usually prodded by Google’s threatened competitors — to investigate its conduct, essentially questioning whether Google’s very success obligates it to treat competitors neutrally.
This controversy runs deeper than a short-term economic conflict between companies or even countries. At base lies a conflict of visions of Internet governance. The European approach was summed up by the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s declaration at last year’s G8 summit that “the Internet is the new frontier, a territory to conquer. But it cannot be a Wild West. It cannot be a lawless place.”