European Justice (Vengeance?): First Microsoft, now Google in the crosshairs of EU regulators

The Americas and Europe have had their disagreements in the past; apparently, in this case, the “past” does not necessarily mean history, because recent events seem to foretell that the friction is alive and well! The EU is well known for its seeming hatred dislike of Microsoft (or Microsoft’s business practices, whichever you prefer). First in 2004 they demanded that Microsoft release a version of Windows XP for Europe without Windows Media Player.  Microsoft compiled and created Windows XP N. Then in 2009 the EU decided that shipping Windows 7 with Internet Explorer was also illegal. At first Microsoft said they would give Windows 7 the XP treatment and release a version of Windows 7 without Internet Explorer, called Windows 7 E. Now no one can say Europeans don’t learn from their mistakes, because after the Windows XP N fiasco (no one bought it), Windows 7 E did not seem so appealing. So instead Microsoft is releasing an update to Windows 7 that presents the user with a randomly ordered list of other browses for users to install, including Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Opera or to keep Internet Explorer. However, this article is not about taking sides and deciding if EU was/is right on regulating Microsoft or not; I just wanted to give you a brief history on the EU-Microsoft relationship and, at the same time, use it as a segway for the topic at hand: A European target on Google’s back.

In late 2006, students at a school in Turin, Italy uploaded a video to Google Video of them bullying an autistic schoolmate.  As soon as Google was notified, they took down the video and helped Italian authorities track down the offenders. Most would agree Google reacted well in the situation and did right by taking down the video ASAP and helping Italian authorities; so the case closed, right? Wrong. A public prosecutor in Milan decided to indict four Google employees of criminal defamation and a failure to comply with the Italian privacy code over this incident.  On February 24, a judge in Milan today convicted 3 of the 4 employees and found them guilty of failing to comply with Italian privacy code.  All 4 were found not guilty of criminal defamation. Drama doesn’t end there, though.

On the same day as the conviction, Google announced on its Google Public Policy Blog that 3 European companies, Foundem, ejustice.fr, and Ciao! from Bing, levied complaints against Google to the EU.  According to Google, the three companies are charging Google with demoting their websites in search results because they are vertical search engines. Neither the EU nor any of companies from Europe have confirmed this as of now, but one would hardly think Google would publicly make an announcement if it held no little truth to it.

It seems Europe has had its fun with Microsoft and is now moving on to Google. Is it that Europe hate American tech powerhouses, or Europe is just more strict about “fair competition” (whatever that term may imply – keep in mind much of Europe is less capitalistic in terms of markets than the USA)? In that regard, it should also be mentioned that some of the companies that supposedly levied complaints against Google (remember the complaints have not been confirmed by the EU yet) have ties to Microsoft so to say Europe has an agenda against American companies would a tiny, itty-bitty stretch of the truth.

Feel free to share your thoughts on the matter in the comments below.

(Please keep in this mind this article is not pro/anti Europe, America, Google, Microsoft, etc. The humor in the article is just that – humor. We do no intend to take sides; rather we are just reporting the juicy details.)

[via PCMag.com]

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34 comments

  1. Joji

    I don’t get it… how can Google still be sued or went to court or something when they “did the right thing” by taking the video off and telling the italian authorities about it?

    The world now a days is so screwed up…

    ~Joji~

  2. Ramesh Kumar

    @Samuel:

    Why I said that the staff should be punished & not the owner in the Google video case –

    The reasons I feel that “employees” rather than “owners” should be held responsible is because of:-

    1)Savvy employees may also be savvy in office politicking (not always but at least often). ;) Savvy office politickers may even have used “more” of political savviness rather than talent to climb career ladders (not always, not in the same prescribed ratio, but at least often) ;)

    2)Some employees gain “owner affections” because of “yesmanship” while others gain “owner affections” inspite of it. It varies from company to company, owner to owner & situation to situation :)

    3)Software industry is known to have higher job hopping percentages in terms of dwell time & frequency compared to many other industries. Guys often quit & hop ;)

    4)A larger percentage of owners tend to be magnanimous to a fault; if not in absolute terms at least to a degree. An errant or invigilant employee especially if senior and/or a shrewder politicker when fired could get away even without bad references from prior employers. Because of his political & politicking skills he may even know some “dark secrets” of the owner, thereby “forcing” the owner to turn if not a complete blind eye, at least a quasi-blind eye. ;)

    In fact what is worse that errant/invigilant employee may not even get fired simply because as a “shrewd office politicker” he may know many “dark secrets” about the owner. If you leave such guys strolling about within the company they go unpunished both by the company & also by the police.

    Trust me even very senior managers would find it quite challenging to rein in such a slippery devil.

    However when culpability gets rested upon the shoulders of staff who are errant and/or invigilant then at least they’ll try to work at least as smartly as they “politick” because for a change their own neck is on the line. :)

    If everything is bottlenecked at owner level accountability may actually evaporate simply because people can always toss up the ball to the owner.

    That’s why I said the staff & not the owner should be punished by the law. The owner should also be punished. The owner should not be the “only one” to be punished in………any case :)
    Ramesh

  3. Ramesh Kumar

    @Hyst:

    Hyst! :) Wow!
    1) Absolutely right. While referring to EU one should also understand it is a coalition of countries but it is not a single country.

    2)You are not only right but you’ve also shattered some myths. I had earlier thought member countries differed only on non-internet issues e.g. Germany being the largest exporter of cars does not mind if VAT is high whereas other EU countries want VAT to be lower.

    3)I had wrongly thought that on “internet issues” all EU countries were united, just like EU has one single Central Bank. I had wrongly thought that like in the case of “a single Central Bank” EU countries also had a “single internet policy” simply because it would serve to increase EU collective economic strength & muscle.

    4)It was an eyeopener to learn that, I quote you – “In France cant download multimedia, they are warned by mail and on second download state blocked their IP (mac) adress”

    Whereas, again I quote you “My law are opposite. I can download any media but can’t seed”.

    I’d be grateful if you could explain to me why France prohibits leeching but not seeding whereas your country allows seeding but not leeching :) Also from your quotation it looked like France only stopped Mackintosh computers but not Windows computers. I wonder why? :)

    5)Hyst I am glad both of us totally agree that both Google & Torrent should be held accountable if any “bad” content or “copyright breached” content gets uploaded on internet
    Ramesh :)

  4. Ramesh Kumar

    @Giovanni:

    Friend Giovanni you have made so many perceptive & correct observations that quoting all of them would be quoting so many points. :)

    1)Politicians in every country of world have “praised or bashed internet” “sometimes” mainly or only to suit their purpose. Often politicians pretend to be noble even when they actually are not. Same is true for companies too. A sad fact.

    2)Again you are 100% right. Some countries muzzle the internet &/or search engines more or while others muzzle the internet &/or search engines less.

    The search engine guys also go along with it – not just because they suffer (sometimes they are not even bothered) but also because they may gain ads if they accept the muzzle. A sad fact. Sometimes country aka “politicians” pretend to be nobler than the “company”; at other times the “company” pretends to be nobler than the country aka “politicians”.

    Since fortunately for all countries there are good politicians too I do feel that 100% “internet muzzle” is as bad as 0% “internet muzzle” simply because in this world of ours everyone is constantly competing even though they do collaborate as well – whether it be company, country or user.

    The internet sometimes joins hands with good politicians & good people like you & other good people out here, in stopping a bad thing from happening or at least slowing it down. :)

    3)You are 100% right about “privacy issue” as well. By way of solution I have 3 additional thoughts to offer. These are in addition to the point you made that it would be nice if there were a few more search engines too provided those “new” ones breach privacy less. My 3 additional thoughts are:-

    a)I wish that EULA’s are not only reviewed & improved but that this improvement is also reported to citizens across the world.

    *Oh I am not referring to the fact that EULA should inform the public domain when they get updated. They do that even now. That’s not what I refer to.*

    Specifically I refer to 3 EULA clauses. Firstly “zero value indemnification” clause should no longer be allowed because it often (though not always) allows everyone including Google to get away with anything just because they are fully indemnified for zero value.

    Secondly “zero person indemnity” clause also should also be stopped forthwith. “Zero person indemnity” extends currently to all directors, employees, 3rd vendors etc etc etc. As a result the app or the company often (though not always) gets away with zero accountability. :(

    Thirdly privacy clause is often worded vaguely & privacy breach is often left unverifiable. Sad.

    Therefore EULA Audit & Privacy Audit should be allowed by reputed 3rd party auditors (Okay I know that there is a very small tribe of reputed auditors ;) but even then. These Audit results should be posted both on on internet aka “demat” format & also on printed material (e.g. annual reports which are printed aka “mat” format.

    Incidentally (although not my main intention ;) in these recession laden times that would also improve GDP of many countries simply because audit firms would do more business ;) Just joking
    Ramesh :)
    Ramesh :)

  5. Ramesh Kumar

    @joa1:

    joa1 you are absolutely right about what you say.I quote joa1 – “if they can make millions and billions developing smart algorithms to channel ads and pub revenue into their and their investors pockets, they should be able to do same to block such content from being spidered, indexed, promoted, etc”.
    Ramesh :)

  6. Ramesh Kumar

    @route67:

    route67 said – “Here in Italy in some newspapers and blogs you can read testimonials to the fact that the cancellation does not actually occurred so immediately”.

    route67 I totally agree with you. Google’s responsibility should not stop merely at “search engine management” but also extend to preventing “something bad” e.g. this video” from reaching public domain.

    Google has the world’s largest number of the world’s best mathematicians! They must work on this “type” of problem as well.They must develop an algorithm to stop this “type” of problem. At most it would delay a “file host”. Better to delay hosting/ avoid hosting “bad” files rather than rushing to host “all” files.

    “Choosing well” is as important as “hosting fast”. Knowing Google they will find an algorithm which in the future would permit “choosing well” as well as “hosting fast”.
    Ramesh :)

  7. Ramesh Kumar

    Wow! Wow! Wow! :)
    The excellent learnings this thread has presented us – to mull over, to become even more humble, to shatter myths which prevailed. :) I am just gratefully quoting portions of your posts for the excellent learnings it provided me & for which I am extremely grateful – both to those who wrote it & also to all others who acted as a wonderful catalyst to prod such thinking. Wow! :)

    @Ashraf –
    1)”On a personal level, I like it when there is a fine balance between regulation and free market”. Perfectly right. “Pure” economic systems have given way to “mixed” ones. Different mixtures exist. Mixture economic systems adopt different elements & different ratios & blends from all 3 ideologies – Capitalist…Socialist…Communist. It varies from country to country. Bullseye! :)

    2)”However, I find it to be a bunch of BS that Microsoft cannot put its own browser in its own operating system. Yet, I find the “pick your own browser” option to be very attractive”. :) I do hope a user can choose not just 1 but at least upto 3 browsers. Many surfers after doing a pros & cons assessments have veered round to the view that they need at least 2 to 3 browsers since what one browser has the others don’t. If not true for all “surfers” this at least holds true for “surfers” who are “developers” of web apps. Oh I know this might have negative implications & file size implications for Microsoft. If that be so then the ballot box could permit just a choice of 1. :) Allowing this would also help Nordic countries in Europe since they prefer Opera. I say this just so windows updates would get in not just via IE or Firefox as it is at present but also via Opera.

    3)”I do anticipate there will be problems, though, for people that don’t install IE. There are still some websites out there that require IE. Lets have the EU force them (the websites) to be more competitive”. Bullseye! This “browser war” has various dimensions. This “cootchy koo coterie behaviour” must be stopped altogther. The mere fact that this has reduced over the years is not enough.I was appalled to learn that when USA suffered a huge cyclone – Katrina or whatever – one of the cyclone warning site was viewable only in IE. God knows how many lives were lost because of that “cootchy koo coterie behaviour”. Btw USA was just an example. No country should suffer this type of problem :(

    Ramesh :)

  8. A. S.

    I’ll add my two-penneth:

    This is less about vengeance as it is about ‘proving’ to the ‘European people’ (that’s how they see us; one amorphous mass) that the E.U. is on our side – ‘trust us’, so to speak.

    There is, of course, a wide streak of anti-Americanism. They see the U.S as somehow stifling European innovation; not their own skip-full of regulations and socialist taxes being to blame.

    Ashraf, I’m sorry to say you’ve swallowed the E.U.’s wishy-washy propaganda, regarding the E.U. being the brake on the desire of neighbouring European nations to go to war with each other. I’m afraid the peace in Europe (disregarding the slaughter of 100,000 in the Balkans; not in the E.U. at the time, but certainly ‘in Europe’), since the end of the 2nd World War, is largely due to two factors: the tens of thousands of U.S. service personnel that remained in Germany after the war (and still do), alongside their weaponry, that could be turned, on a moment’s notice, to face any European nation threatening to get out of hand again; and the unity, within NATO, to concentrate on the Soviet threat. The world’s greatest bureaucracy (in both senses) – that of milk and butter mountains and the regulating of the curvature of bananas – hasn’t had anything to do with it. In fact, after the devastation of a largely-European-instigated World War, European nations set about creating their (not the people’s) socialist utopia, leaving the U.S. and NATO (mainly the U.S.) to prevent any more conflict and keep a check on Stalin and his friends. They haven’t ever felt duty bound to help. France only recently bothered to join NATO.

    I don’t know the merits of either of the E.U.’s recent investigations, but people shouldn’t believe E.U. apparatchiks have any desire to fulfil the wishes of the people of the nations that make up the E.U. It’s a racket, in which we 400-odd million suffer.

    Slightly more than two-penneth, I think. A little bit of a rant, maybe.

  9. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    Quite a discussion going on here. I would like to add that I totally disagree with the assertion “EU doesn’t care about people, they only care about companies”. In fact, I would argue that anti-monopoly action is in the interest of the people; socialist laws is in the interest of the people; a mutually beneficial economic relationship which now stands in the way of future wars between EU states is in the interest of the people.

    There are many things I don’t like about the EU. But there are also many aspects I respect, and appreciate. I am very glad that the EU is willing to take on powerhouses like Microsoft and Google; at the same time, however, I disagree with some of its actions, like stated in my comment #1 above. To make a blanket statement about an entity, especially about an entity that is made up of so many different states/peoples, is just – simply put – wrong.

  10. Samuel
    Author/

    @Ashraf: It’s still a valid comment, it’s not off topic really.

    @RobCr: You do realize that you can, for the most part, remove and or disable things that auto start on Windows, and with 7 they make things load over time or not at all until needed. As to your problem with them integrating stuff, Apple does it too; they just don’t have a monopoly. Out of curiosity what OS did you use?

    @kim Michelsen: I agree with you on the fact that Europe is not America but I disagree with how Europe is dealing with it.

    @Locutus: That’s my bad really, not Ashraf’s.

    @Ramesh Kumar: I’m currently making my way through your posts, I’ll reply once I’m done.

    @Nebulus: I agree that they need to be kept in check, I just disagree on how it’s being done.

    @Everyone: I should have seen this coming. Only way there could be more hate here is if Apple was involved!

    Ok, as to my opinion on this whole thing:
    I agree that Microsoft is a monopoly, I agree that Google is one too. I agree the EU has the right to prevent monopolies from abusing their monopoly. I accept that Microsoft used its monopoly to shove the first versions of IE down people’s throats.

    BUT I don’t see how the EU’s decisions help with any of that! Instead of forcing no IE or the browser ballot how about just making IE less integrated with the OS so that the problem that RobCr mentioned doesn’t happen. As to the Google video, I happen to think that while Google could be held accountable for it, GOOGLE should be held accountable, not four random employees. The latest Google battle I don’t have an opinion on yet, BUT they are a monopoly and should be treated like one.

  11. Hyst

    This is funky…European Union isnt one European state…
    EU is only an update Schengen Agreement for law… EU government doesnt commands laws for countries in EU. Every member has “veta” vote. There are only directive about donation to and from EU to concrete country and penale for many thing. Main problems are hypermarkets. They are monopol on this playground and small and normal Agriculture company have problem to sell anything with earnings… There are extreme difference in law. In France cant download multimedia, they are warned by mail and on second download state blocked their IP (mac) adress. My law are opposite. I can download any media but cant seed. I pay to “Trade Union copyright” on any media storage buy but i have no problem with music or films for personal use…There are many difference, not only the law, but language, habits and thinking… MS a google problems are not the same. MS is a monopol problem and video on google is “social law” problem. In google problem is primary question who upload the video. If google cant backtrack it or he cant say, then this is google problem. It is like Torrent tracker problem. Torrent tracker havent any illegal data, but user have. If provider of tracker cant say, who is seeder and is uncooperative with BSA, provider assumes the responsibility of a problem

    BTW monopols are ony milking cows for EU parlament

  12. Giovanni

    Hey Ashraf,

    look at here:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8533641.stm

    An example of good (web) crime concerning privacy violation….LOL!

    Yes, INTERNET would be a great revolutionary means for the global spread of DEMOCRACY throughout the world if only it was used properly!!

    That’s why (Italian) Politicians don’t like the WEB and try to discourage people to use it instead of the TV with stupid bills almost a daily basis…LOL!!

    That said, it’s a shame that in my country (Italy) we don’t have such kind of heroic hackers, otherwise many financial crimes carried out here at the expense of taxpayers would eventually emerge as first step to replace our current corrupted system ruled by BANKS through the Caste of Politicians at their beck and call.

    What about in US??

    I guess that if anything like this occurred in US many Wall Streets Bankers and politicians (even Obama??) would start shaking with fear…LOL!

    Cheers

  13. Giovanni

    # STEFAN & co

    “EU doesn’t care about people, they only care about companies”

    ?????

    LOL!

    Are you joking man?? Come on, be serious!!

    What about GOOGLE (US multinational monopolist company, right??) that, in the name of BU$INE$$, has supinely accepted for years to be subject to the bloody CENSORSHIP LAWS of countries like CHINA and most of the Islamic ones in the Middle east??

    Are you aware of these despotic rules?? So what??

    So on one hand GOOGLE (and US people like you and maybe Ashraf himself, right??) complained about an Italian sentence that, condemning GOOGLE employees, has in their view undermined the fundamental principle of freedom of speech on the web (what about the breach of the laws?? LOL!), but on the other hand GOOGLE itself (and MICROSOFT) never lifted a finger against illiberal countries around the world (China, Islamic countries, Russia) in which they make lots of money without caring for the despotic rules (==> CENSORSHIP on the Search Engine searches, for instance) put forward by the local Governments as means to keep the public opinion under control.

    That’s why I found the reaction of GOOGLE over the Italian sentence mentioned above ridiculous as well as out-of-touch and a little bit hypocrit.

    Freedom of expression doesn’t mean you can do whatever you like online and, if you don’t mind, posting a video of violence committed against an autistic boy, is a CRIMINAL OFFENCE that must be prosecuted under Italian laws as GOOGLE should remove that video INSTANTLY and not just a few days later after being notified by police.

    And anyway it’s a half sentence since the defendants have been acquitted on slander charges which where the most serious accusation against them.

    What the sentence has established is the principle of responsibility, namely the duty of the provider to control in some way what is actually put into its network.

    As far as I’m aware, the U.S. Government does not agree with the prior liability of Internet services providers such as Google whenever an illegal content is published on their platform, but whether one likes it or not this liability exists in the Italian system and for this reason must be enforced.

    And anyway what about BIG BROTHER GOOGLE??

    Don’t you care about the privacy issue??

    Do you know that AOL and GOOGLE know and keep records of everything you search for online?

    Do you know how many data GOOGLE knows about us?

    Look at here:

    http://www.criminaljusticeusa.com/blog/2009/25-surprising-things-that-google-knows-about-you/

    The version that lawmakers (especially in US) is foisting upon naive people like you is that governments and corporations should have control over your private information, but only the “right” people (Google boys, right??LOL!!) will be allowed to access it.

    In my humble view both privacy and anonymity are a strong safeguard against totalitarianism, tyranny, oppression, and corruption and must be protected as essential rights at all costs.

    Those who wish to strip the “protections” of a free society such as people’s privacy should be viewed with the greatest suspicion, as you can’t protect the freedom of speech by destroying the basis of a free society (free competition, people’s privacy, free market etc…) for profit’s sake.

    For this reason I strongly believe that we should have many quality search engines out there besides GOOGLE that actually believe in protecting our privacy rights rather than selling our “habits” and “tastes” to big corporation and Public Bodies as instead GOOGLE does on a daily basis.

    Because of this policy, PRIVACY on the web is increasingly under attack day by day, as out searches and websites visits are recorded and combined into personal and behavioral profiles by the major search engines such as GOOGLE whose multibillionaire business is to send this sensitive data to corporations and ads agency.

    In fact, as you should know, while you are searching something on the the internet, these engines register the time of your searches, the terms you used, the sites you visited and your IP address that makes it possible to trace your computer or even the household that carried out the search.

    And in most cases people are completely unaware of this kind of threat while surfing the net!!!

    Don’t get me wrong!! I don’t hate Google but I do think we need to support alternatives as don’t like the idea that our every Internet activity may be tracked by only one search engine in the world every bloody day 24-hour-round-the-clock…LOL!

    This is the real battle that everybody in the world should pursuit for the (real) freedom’s sake.

    So if I were in your shoes I’d be much more worried about this tricky matter rather than the decisions of the European and Italian justice against GOOGLE and MICROSOFT “anarchy” and their monopolist predatory abuse on the worldwide market….LOL!

    Take care!!

  14. Nebulus

    I like that EU is keeping big companies in check. It is true that usually there is no change for the end user, but the corporations need to feel they can’t do what they want. Otherwise they get too have too much power, and that is not the best of ideas :)

  15. joa1

    This goes to comment # 3 above, Stefan… it is amazing how it sounds like you are talking about the US and the US Gov. and US companies and MS, etc.!… as for MS and Google and all the rest, there are so many “slopes” to this mountain!… balance, fairness, logic, good sense, ethics, etc. I personally consider it is stupid that the judge is finding those employees guilty, yet, I also happen to believe that freedom is a delicate thing and unfortunately, most people can’t live up to it… so, do I consider the gun the problem, or simply the finger that pulls the trigger? do i consider YouTube accountable, or only the people who upload the content? etc. Know what this makes me think of? An episode of the TV series NUMBERS… this guy kills his victims on the internet, by speeding up or slowing down the process by releasing more acid in the water tank the guy is immersed in, as per number of viewers online who login to the page where the cam is showing the victim dying as she burn away immersed in acid… Ooops… the guy is not accountable, it’s the viewers… they are the ones loging and speeding up the release of the acid… darn! who needs hegemonic, totalitarian regimes anyway, be it the US of A or the EU or China or whoever they are!? ultimately, it all boils down to individual choices… using ms windows, ie, firefox, the internet, or not at all! but by the same token, c**p!, pedophiles claim that they have the right to do what they do… and when our privacy is violated (and it IS daily!) who is to blame? if you think this is humor(ous) then think again!… it really isn’t! it is in fact pretty sad, and even sadder is when it is all linked and people fail to see it… because it is by the same logic, the same principles, that people are all wrapped up in the same labels, and sold out as “this” or “that” be it because they are pro gates and MS, or against, pro US or against, pro EU or not really, and muslims, christians, etc., are all considered to be “the same”… the human tendency to make generalizations is simply a fact, and it is part of the fiber of humanity — it is how we make sense of the world and how we find some sanity —, but can be and often is and has appalling results!… much needed is the ability, the capacity to step back and not bag up anything, anyone, as being all the same… and don’t get me started on all the c**p that goes around with global money market domination, health control, vaccines, big pharma, gmos, exploitation of natural resources, etc. it would be a never ending discussion. one can always play the devil’s advocate, but even the term itself implies that someone is the good guy and someone is the bad guy, doesn’t it? by the end of the day, we stand alone in out decisions… we use the tools that we consider make life easier, better, etc., and personally, i hope my choices will have as much as possible a positive impact on others around me, and as little as possible negative impact. in the big scheme of things, it is like ghandi said, what each one of us does is insignificant, yet, it is important that we do it. so, this is not about the eu or the us, about vengeance, or about even justice… it’s simply about human frailties. and yes, i do believe that people who publicly serve content, and make it available, can not just be given a brake, but should be accountable if they serve pedophile materials, promote hatred, etc. if they can make millions and billions developing smart algorithms to channel ads and pub revenue into their and their investors pockets, they should be able to do same to block such content from being spidered, indexed, promoted, etc. what about, for example, google showing up paid advertising of fake make easy money schemes? same! yes, they are responsible and should be! what about PayPal conning people, stealing their money? same! what about chinese fake websites selling non-existing products? ditto! but again, all this is only a reflection of the same: human greed, profits being more important than people; companies not giving a c**p about people (and yes, stefan, it aplies to the US of A as it does to the EU and China and the rest!…), so, singling out one block, one creed, one country, it never, NEVER helps in doing more than creating more hatred, more animosity, more contention…

  16. route67

    Maybe the video is not a question of freedom of information, as they are presenting the manager of Google. Here in Italy in some newspapers and blogs you can read testimonials to the fact that the cancellation does not actually occurred so immediately. As you said rightly, we can make serious comments when the ruling is published.
    Ciao.

  17. kim Michelsen

    Europe consists of many historically independent states, we are not a USE, and we have a tradition for many small companies, and they don’t have a chance against corporations like Microsoft or Google, which by them selves can monopolize the whole world if the governments don’t set limits for their power. Even the American government try from time to time to stop fe Microsoft.
    If Linux didn’t exist it was only a question of time before Microsoft would have a total world monopoly on the operating system market, and then it would be the end of capitalism as Microsoft could tap money out everywhere.
    Google is a really intelligent company, but within some years Google would be synonymous with the Internet, from your machines, through the plug in your wall, through the cables and the backbone net, and the central software, and how do you think the capitalistic system would have it with such a monopoly?

    One way to conquer your competitors is to give software away with your own products competing with your competitors products, in that way you removes their economic base, and when they are out of the market, you can set the price for your own software without consideration of competitors. And what can’t be conquered can be bought, or nearly.
    The software culture around fe Linux, and Firefox can’t be bought, and thats the main reason that there are a somewhat lively free software culture today, but without that, the US patent rules on the software area would have killed any innovation.

  18. Ramesh Kumar

    @Samuel

    Finally I have just this to say. Both Google & Microsoft used totally different strategies to defend themselves in EU. Google got away with it; Microsoft didn’t. This is only my personal view YMMV. :)

    Google – cleverly (but speciously) denied guilt even though they were guilty. YMMV

    Microsoft sadly caved in to pressure even though it wasn’t guilty YMMV

    Google – can no longer get away saying that it is only a “search engine guy” but not responsible for any bad video getting hosted. No way. This time it was one violent video. Tomorrow it could be worse.

    Here’s why.

    We all are aware that Google is now working out algorithms for mapping genetic code aka gene mapping. For the sake of discussion let us say that they complete this task over the next 5 years. Let us say that some dottechie were to invoke this service from Google (i.e. a gene map of himself/herself) and act upon that information. Let us say that a Google data entry operator keyed in the gene code wrongly because of which that dottechie suffered, simply because that dottechie acted upon that incorrect information. Would that dottechie, or any of those who posted on this thread or any of those 228 who have already viewed it so far accept that Google’s core competency only extends as far as the search engine but not to the correctness of the data which got keyed in? Does that data entry operator working for Google deserve to be retained or fired? You tell me. :(

    God writes genetic maps & takes responsibility for that. Were Google to write gene maps (nothing wrong there) shouldn’t Google take responsibility for it? :(

    That’s my take on Google YMMV even on the “cruel video case”. :(

    Microsoft – caved in to pressure even though Microsoft is not guilty. Microsoft Windows OS is too good a product in terms of 2 aspects – “Fault Tolerance” & “Mission Criticality”. Very few software can match up to that. This huge wonderful gritty company while it does make several bloopers ;) has won a large user base because of “Fault Tolerance” & “Mission Criticality” & is ironically hated because of it!

    I am surprised how in this EU thing it could only see a sea of justice department inspectors & nothing else & so caved in to those inspectors! Sheesh! They accomodated on WinXp de-integration, got shafted, agreed on Win& de-integration & again got shafted. Why? A classic case of kindness getting mistaken for weakness.

    Were Microsoft to refuse to back down & suspended sales to Europe the other guy (aka EU) would have just blinked & capitulated – so that the stalemate would have come to an end. USA is perhaps even now EU’s largest export market. USA is in any case till recently (before EU became bigger than USA) the largest market in the whole world! :)

    Forget the EU justice inspectors. Most Europeans travel to the US day in & day out. You mean to say those travellers won’t pick up a Windows OS (fully integrated version) from USA if it were not available in Europe. Global citizens as far as I know are very smart. They know which side of the bread is buttered. There are various different hues when it comes to “patriotism” – it is quite nuanced! ;)

    When trickle turns to flood even the EU would regularize that “Fully Integrated OS”. You know why? Not because of a sense of civic kindness to citizens but because what Europe would lose in terms of GDP is what USA would gain in terms of GDP! Microsoft would still not lose sales – (at least in terms of physical units if not in $ sales). Sales lost in Euros would be sales gained in Dollars. :)

    We live in a world where nations, companies & users are always competing. That is why in my personal view had Microsoft done what I am suggesting – the user, the country (aka EU) & the company (Microsoft) – all 3 would have benefitted. YMMV

    I’ve faced this stalemate scenario – albeit not on such a gargantuan scale. I can tell you that sometimes you can make the other guy blink first. :)
    Ramesh :)

  19. Ramesh Kumar

    I totally support Google if it chooses to totally remove a website from indexation or gives it a very low PageRank. I say this for 2 reasons:-

    1)Despite global market leadership (around 80% worldwide mkt share) Google is perhaps the “only” search engine which strictly follows a policy of *no paid inclusion*. Ads are shown separately & labelled as such. Most search engine offer higher page ranking if you pay for it. This is called “Paid Inclusion” e.g. Yahoo mixes results of “Paid Inclusions” & “Non-Paid Inclusions” :)

    2)Search engines & online apps are known to be notoriously unprofitable. :( Ad revenues thin out also because users have browser tools to block ads. Revenues are also low because everyone wants everything free. :( Users are not willing to pay a subscription to use a search engine. Wikipedia tried a subscription search engine & withdrew because users would not accept it. Yahoo even got almost sold out. Guys Google rocks in this respect. So let’s not criticise them on this aspect.

    3)Google bit the bullet & succeeded because of it. Many search engines hosted their search on a web portal & earned revenues during dotcom boom & after. We all know web portals have succeeded more than web sites. Google wisely stuck to a minimalist website (& not a web portal), forgoed revenue (which a web portal would have given it) & ultimately succeeded. Those two co-owners are admirably bright & do have their finger on the button, in this respect.

    Google got its act right. The right to determine PageRank is best left totally to Google. Its like the restaurant which says – “Rights Of Admission Reserved”. The restaurant reserves exclusive right to permit visitors or not.

    Google should have total right to determine PageRank & even de-Indexation. In any case they have a EULA & Privacy Rights which already covers this even before a web page gets indexed.
    Ramesh :)

  20. Ramesh Kumar

    @Samuel
    The Google cruel video case

    Perhaps this was the “first violent video case which got prosecuted” or “at least the first violent video of violence perpetrated upon an autism patient” It is horrible irrespective of whichever of the 2 categories it fell into.

    That said the judge acted correctly but Google erred.

    Judge – He correctly assessed the nature of crime, nature of its perpetrators & the punishment awarded:-

    1)The judge punished the school students who perpetrated the ghastly act to 10 mths community service rather than imprisoning them in a jail for delinquents. Smart work there. However I do hope, since it was a ghastly crime, his sentence did not run concurrently with their school education. For 10 months the school should have given those offenders “leave of absence” so that during those 10 months those students – did not attend school at all but “only” did community service. Hopefully when those errant students completed school the Principal of that school would have given a passout certificate which only mentioned “leave of absence” rather than “punishment at the hands of the police”. If that Principal erred, the sad consequence is, that one single silly action would have bred sociopaths who from now onwards would keep beating autistic patients simply because they hold the “blameless autistic students” responsible for all their travails suffered in their stigmatized lives. I hope the Principal was as wise as the Judge.

    Google – Its argument that that Google is:-
    1)Only “an algorithm creator”

    2)Search engine algorthisms are mind-bogglingly complex to create

    3)Only a “video file creator” & not “video file hoster” should be punished . Google argued that it only hosted the file & did not create it. It also argued that it took off the video immediately upon receiving complaints.The argument was clever but specious.

    Sorry I don’t buy that argument. To me “its a buck stops here thing”. Google staff may disagree purely because they are an “interested party” & it puts their employment at risk. It still won’t change my thinking. Why do I say this?

    Companies sometimes (definitely in this case) argue out what are their “core competencies” are & sometimes gullible judges get swayed by “eloquence” & “clever wordplay rather than sense”.

    WHERE DOES IT SAY THAT A COMPANIES ACTIVITIES BE “ALLOWED” TO BE RESTRICTED ONLY TO ITS CORE COMPETENCIES. Why do you insist that a chemical company have incinerators & “de-pollutant equipments”? Would you accept if that chemical company turned around & said that “incineration” & “de-pollutionizing” were not its core competencies? You do not accept the “restrict-to-core-competency-argument” argument simply because pollution hurts everyone. When we are wise enough to understand this just because it is tangible to see pollution & smoke are we foolish enough to deny it just because pollution is sometimes invisible?

    The “violent video” was a “pollution” of a different kind. That video “could have” enraged the parents & siblings of other autists across the world in giving vent to rage on some innocent bystander. Give me a break guys. Don’t we know “road rage” exists? How can we deny “video rage” doesn’t? Do not videos of terrorists incite terror & violence? Cannot a video showing violence perpetrated upon an autist do the same……..at least somewhere….at least for some people……at least some times? People are known to react if someone beats animals; here someone was beating a human.

    Therefore to the leaders of Google I respectfully suggest that they also develop algorithms to pop up such videos on their servers “before their servers release it to the public domain”. Those videos could flash a warning signal to the Google Server. If not getting auto deleted, such videos should at least throw up popups. Too bad if it reduces Google’s profit margins.

    The world today does have its share of frustrated souls with short fuses.

    I confidently know such algorithms are mathematically possible in software engineering.

    Btw I do know that Microsoft’s operating profit as % of sales in 2008 was 35% & that of Google was 30%. “So no one is trying to skin an emaciated dying animal even before it died”. I admire both Microsoft & Google. I suggest whatever I suggest as their well wisher.

    Accountability & proactivity has to kick in else this farce would continue to play out across the auditoriums of our imperfect world….to very sad consequences.

    Incidentally Google has the largest concentration of the world’s finest mathematicians in the whole world.

    3)I also hope that judges get swayed by sense & not eloquence

    Ramesh :)

  21. RobCr

    PS I forgot to mention, that having IE integrated can have other complications.
    If you are running XP, and you upgrade to IE7 or IE8, you are going to have an unpleasant surprise If you image your drive, and try to restore that image to a PC with different hardware.
    When restoring to different hardware, you should use your imaging software to load the image.
    Then you SHOULD NOT BOOT INTO THE OS.
    You should put your XP cd in, and do a repair install (NOT Recovery Console repair).
    That allows XP to ‘see’ the new hardware, and update the drivers, etc.
    Then you can boot into Windows.
    HOWEVER, if you had IE7 or IE8 in that image, you are stuffed.

    Slight aside
    Maria Sharapova was being interviewed after one of her matches. She was asked, should women have to play 5 sets to earn equal prize money.
    She replied, that she could play five sets, “but it would not be a pretty site”.

    Back to your re-installed Windows
    If You had had IE7 or IE8, then Windows would run, “but it would not be a pretty site”.

  22. Maddog

    Every side in a situation usually looks after its own I find, so situations like this one are all bs.In the video case it wasnt the eu just italy mate and they were wrong to charge the google employees never mind convict them of anything.The italian authorities basically just made it criminal to work for a company? what a load of bull.normally I don’t comment on politics too much bs and hypocrisy for my liking no matter where it happens,but in this case I decided to voice my opinion.As far as browser choice goes I made my decision a while ago an use firefox :-)

  23. Doru

    About how i use my players and browsers.I.E.8 i used for HP addon(not work with Firefox) and also for Fireshot(but this work also with Firefox).Ie and Firefox are to slow for me and usual i use (in the past:Avant browser)Slim browser.Ie is necesarry for some programs but not for majority.Almost it can be replaced by Firefox.W.Media Players is good but not perfect.I use also others 3-4 players for what i need.E.U. reaction it can say that is little exagerated because peoples choise:quality,what they think that is necesary for their life and the speed(want a very fast browser)and because non exist a perfect soft,they use more browser or players so the conditions of democratie is all right.Here i East of E.U. i think that majority use XP with I.E. whithout any problems,only rich peoples use:Vista or Windows 7 because it come with computer when you buy this computer and is too expansive for majority soo they use second hand with XP like me,and probably are a lot of peoples that use trial version and after 1-2 month format computer and reinstall s.o. like me(because i don’t want to use crack)and i don’t have enough money to buy s.o.We are in general too poor for this.So we became expert in install and reinstall s.o.

  24. RobCr

    I was in Quality Assurance in a large bank for 4 years.
    All changes to the bank’s programs/systems had to go through our dept, for approval.
    We ensured that the change would not crash the computers and/or lose data.
    If MS had been a dept in our company, and not an international company, and they had brought Windows to us, to run the banks crucial programs on it, I would have rejected it.
    The main change they would have had to do is –
    Remove all the surplus crap from boot up and closing.
    There would be no integrated programs of any kind (eg IE, Media Player, etc).
    There would be no prefetech, nor other complexities designed to give the impression that things run fast.
    It would have to be a ‘KISS’ start up, or we would have rejected it completely.
    Businesses are running crucial systems on MS OS’s, and Governments are letting MS get away with adding tons of complexity.

    Rob

    PS Some of the Dept managers were promoted to keep them in the Bank (different roles had pay limits, so sometimes they were changed to a new role to keep them). Thus most were more political, than suited for the management role.
    The two experienced/superior managers were in charge of the Systems Programmers, and also the Data Capture area (The dept that reads all the micr documents overnight, to do ALL the customers’ transactions).
    At one of the banks’ managers meetings, some of the managers were complaining bitterly, about how thorough I was (rejecting some of their changes).
    The manager of the Data Capture dept stood up, and said –
    “Rob was often a pain in the ar-e(rear), unfortunately Rob was usually right”

  25. Ramesh Kumar

    @Samuel
    I think Europe is being “vengeful” rather than “judgementally impartial”. This is IMHO, commentors YMMV

    Here’s why:-
    There are 3 parties & there is an “optical illusion” as well. :) The 3 parties are “users”, “company” & “country”.

    1)User – Always has a right to choose what he wishes – whether from a ballot box or via any other arrangement. That for me is a “given” in any market. :)

    2)Country – No country can claim to be “nobler” than any company ;) – even though countries often claim that! This is the “optical illusion” I had referred to. :) Vice versa no company can claim to be “nobler” than any country…..”always”. I for one never believe judiciary is untainted “always” just because it is judiciary. This is true for most judiciaries. This is because countries show as much evidence of monopolistic tendencies as companies do. Therefore countries “are not necessarily snow whites always” even if they like to allege that companies “are black devils always – especially larger companies”. Countries will always compete with other countries just as they will also collaborate.

    I’ve never ever bought the argument that large companies are “black devils”. If size correlates with devilry then 100% of the time EU’s GDP is >>>>>>> than Microsoft’s or Google’s combined turnovers. So what does that prove? Since both EU & the 2 companies are “interested parties” these cases should have been tried in the International Court of Justice rather than EU court. :)

    3)Companies will always compete against other companies. If a prosecutor company is a competitor of the defendent company its “competitorness” is immaterial to the case. The judge should evaluate a case based upon merits & not on whether the prosecutor was a competitor or not. :)

    This is merely a practical affirmation that we live in a world which is at least “tricky invariably” or “tough most of the time”. Users, companies & countries need to develop survival skills rather than seeking mollycoddling always.

    If a guy on the street harasses a lady, a citizen could very well defend that lady. Why should a judge object just because the defender was a competitor of the attacker. The only important thing is that the lady got saved. :) This preamble precedes the specifics only to give you my line of thought.

    Subsequent to this I’ll get into the specifics of the excellent examples you’ve raised in your appreciably inimitable manner. I would also end with suggesting some solutions just so the matter does not merely end with analysis. Hopefully those would help – “user”, “country” & “company” SIMULTANEOUSLY. I’ll try to do it apolitically else it could harm the blogsite itself.
    Ramesh :)

  26. Stefan

    EU doesn’t care about people, they only care about companies, I bet in the Microsoft-case there was another company that complained, not a individual. EU has strange laws, if one product is allowed in one EU-country all other countries has to allow that product to, I remember thee was some thing about a pesticide that was illegal (was considered dangerous for people) in, I think it was Germany (can be wrong), and another company wanted sell it there and went to EU to be able to sell it, I think they got the right to sell it. EU don’t give a c**p about people, they only serves companies that pays EU, and maybe Microsoft and Google didn’t. EU is now a giant that was first thought to be a local UN for Europe, but now it has God-complex and want to be the the ruler of Europe, and doesn’t give a damn about peace and such, now it want to regulate everything, they want to emulate USA/Russia, like one government (EU) and all the countries has little or no local laws, all laws is controlled in EU parliament. That’s why they are after the big USA companies that are threaten EU, the big companies that are in EU is afraid of the big global companies in the US, it’s USA vs EU. And look up “ACTA” (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) on the net to see how EU cares about people.

  27. Doru

    The logic is:if one(company,person) have too much power(in competition with others),the rest will be slave.It is a social-democrathic capitalism that i think thath is not very bad but need all time to make some change for the better and corrections.Ideea is to not have dictatorship.We have:Hitler and Stalin and others.We don’t need another leaders like this peoples.It is a stupidity for example to have a king of E.U.

  28. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    On a personal level, I like it when there is a fine balance between regulation and free market. However, I find it to be a bunch of BS that Microsoft cannot put its own browser in its own operating system. Yet, I find the “pick your own browser” option to be very attractive. I do anticipate there will be problems, though, for people that don’t install IE. There are still some websites out there that require IE. Lets have the EU force them (the websites) to be more competitive =P.

    That being said, this isn’t an article on Microsoft, so ignore my comment.