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Wednesday, November 26, 2014 12:34 PM

Google vs. Sun vs. France: Too Big, Too Powerful, Too Free

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I happen to like the sun. By definition, the earth would not even be a planet without the sun. No one on earth would be alive without free sunshine.

I happen to like Google. I could survive without Google, but like the sun, much of what Google provides is free.

Free Google Things

  • Free internet services including the best search engine in the world
  • Free Gmail
  • Free research on self-driving cars
  • Free research on other robotics
  • Free blog software
  • Free hosting and storage for blogs
  • Free ads on my blog (and those ads make me money)

For a discussion of the implications of a self-driving car, please see Google Unveils Self-Driving Car, No Steering Wheel, No Accelerator, No Brake Pedal; Self-Driving Taxi Has Arrived. Who, other than city bureaucrats with their taxi licensing scheme will not want lower taxi fares?

For a discussion of other Google robotic research, please see More Robots: Google's "Atlas" Robot Mimics "Karate Kid"; Flying Defibrillator "Ambulance Drone" Unveiled; Fed Has No Answer.

Green Energy Handouts vs. Google

Unlike "green energy" parasites that could not exist without government subsidies (taxpayer dollars), Google, like the sun does what it does for free. Google does not ask for money from the government to promote autonomous cars, robots, or anything else.

Instead, Google research has created thousands of very high-paying jobs. Those job-holders pay taxes.

What's not to like?

Enter the French

France does not like Google. Yesterday, Yahoo! reported on France's Desperate Battle to Erase Google, Netflix and Uber from Existence.
Ever since Minitel bit dust, the continental power has been hopping mad about American domination of Internet services. And over the past weeks, attacks on U.S. giants have escalated from Paris to Lille.

Netflix is right now in the middle of an ambitious European expansion drive that started in Scandinavia and is fanning out south. Sure enough, France’s Association for the Protection of Consumers and Users has now sued Netflix for “malicious and illegal clauses.”

Uber’s French launch has been, if anything, more controversial than the Netflix debut. Infuriated taxi drivers in Lille have attacked a student for trying to enter an Uber car, first attempting to block her from opening the car door, then allegedly throwing a bottle at her head. The UberPOP service is about 20% cheaper than French taxis.

The French legal attacks on Google are too numerous to list here but the latest one actually has an entirely novel twist. France is now threatening Google with a hefty, €1,000 penalty for every defamatory link the company fails to remove from its global network of Google subsidiaries.
Google’s Tax Setup Faces French Challenge

Yahoo! noted numerous French attacks on Google.

Here is a key one as described by the Wall Street Journal: Google’s Tax Setup Faces French Challenge.

I have a simple remedy for this tax avoidance madness. Abolish corporate income taxes.

No country would have any tax advantage over any other country and all of the waste in time and effort and legal costs to maneuver taxes can be spent on research and more productive activities!

Right to Be Forgotten

Now the EU is in on the Google Attack. Please consider the New York Times article ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Should Apply Worldwide, E.U. Panel Says.
Privacy watchdogs in the European Union issued guidelines on Wednesday calling on the company to apply the recent ruling on the so-called right to be forgotten to all Google search results.

The new guidelines, issued by a panel composed of privacy regulators from the bloc’s 28 member states, would require Google and other search engines in certain cases to take down links at the request of individuals in the companies’ search domains in Europe as well as outside the region.

The guidelines also raised questions about whether Europe’s data protection rules — which are some of the most stringent in the world — could be enforced beyond the 28-member bloc, and if American tech companies like Google and Microsoft would have to comply with the privacy ruling in their American operations.

“This is a line that U.S. companies will be very reluctant to cross,” said Ian Brown, a professor of information security and privacy at the University of Oxford, in discussing the potential global use of Europe’s privacy ruling. “It will come down to who blinks first. The companies or the privacy regulators.”
Guidelines Optional

Guidelines are not rules. It will be up to European Union member countries to decide how to apply them. Enter France once again.

France insists whatever it decides applies to the entire world.

For example, the Guardian reports Google’s French arm faces daily €1,000 fines over links to defamatory article.
Google’s French subsidiary has been ordered to pay daily fines of €1,000 unless links to a defamatory article are removed from the parent company’s entire global network.

The punitive judgment by the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance, based on the controversial right to be forgotten online established by the European Court of Justice, breaks new ground in making the subsidiary liable for the activities of its parent company – in this case Google Inc.

The court handed down the ruling in September but it has barely been reported on outside France. At one level, the decision represents a pioneering attempt by a European court to enforce its order of justice on the internet worldwide.

Google has said it is considering its options and that it already removes links to defamatory online articles, fulfiling its legal obligations to French citizens. The French decision follows the May ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the case of Mario Costeja González, a Spanish man who succeeded in ordering Google to remove links to an old article saying that his home was being repossessed to pay off debts.

His lawyers argued that it was a matter of his privacy and that Google had to delete “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” data from its search results – what has become known as the right to be forgotten.
Too Big, Too Powerful, Too Free

This is what it all boils down to. Google is too big, too, powerful, and above all, too free for the French.

France does not like anything cheaper, or better. Thus the attacks not only on Google, but on Amazon (for free shipping of books), on Facebook, on Netflix, on the Uber taxi service, on anything and everything cheaper.

Save the Bookstores

July 10, 2014: Amazon Charges Penny for Shipping Following France Ruling Shipping Cannot Be Free; "No Competition" Laws

October 03, 2013: France Vows to "Save the Bookstores", Fixes Price of Books

What's the Goal?

France's Cultural Minister called Amazon a “destroyer of bookshops”. But what's the goal? Is it to save the bookstores or to get people to read?

If the goal is to get people to read books, logic would dictate the cheaper the price the better. Kindle, Nook, and other eBook readers come to mind.

Petition of the Candle Makers

Ironically, French economist Frederic Bastiat lampooned protectionism back in 1845 when he penned 'Petition of the Candle Makers', mocking the sun's "unfair trade advantage" over candle-makers.

We are suffering from the ruinous competition of a rival who apparently works under conditions so far superior to our own for the production of light that he is flooding the domestic market with it at an incredibly low price; for the moment he appears, our sales cease, all the consumers turn to him, and a branch of French industry whose ramifications are innumerable is all at once reduced to complete stagnation. This rival, which is none other than the sun, is waging war on us so mercilessly we suspect he is being stirred up against us by perfidious Albion (excellent diplomacy nowadays!), particularly because he has for that haughty island a respect that he does not show for us.”

"No Competition" Laws

"Unfair competition" laws should be called what they really are: "No competition" laws, complete with higher prices, poor service, and higher unemployment.

France Cannot Compete

Government spending is already 56% of GDP. Hollande has threatened to take over steel, auto makers, and other industries to preserve jobs. Every month, France becomes less and less competitive.

People flee France because of excess taxes. French corporations are reluctant to expand because of preposterous work rules.

France forced inane agricultural tariffs on the rest of Europe to save inefficient French farms from "unfair competition".

The economic fools in France would tax the sun if they could. They can't, so they do the next closest thing: attack Google.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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