Europe Green With Jealousy of American Firmsby Opinion Express April 3, 2018 0 comments
Despite being an advanced continent, Europe remains hugely jealous of American firms.
Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, warned recently that Facebook and Google ought to be dismantled because they are becoming far too large to be governed. While the lack of regulation that has led to the uncontrolled growth of technology giants is an issue, Macron’s outlandish suggestion should be ignored. This follows a long path wherein European regulators constantly fine and try to punish American technology companies for abusing their dominance. However, had the tables been turned, it is highly unlikely that Europe would have done the same. Their actions in the controversy around diesel emissions is a case in point where both France and Germany balked at taking action or committing to clean-air timelines for vehicular emissions. At an intrinsic level, therefore, it is quite clear that there is extreme resentment against American technology companies for the immense success they have enjoyed even in Europe and the lack of European competition in this sphere, quite unlike what Airbus has done with Boeing.
That said, Macron has a point. The lack of effective regulation, particularly by the US Government, has been a serious issue. Without regulatory oversight companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon have consciously bent rules. In the Barack Obama era, it was felt that these technology companies will act as agents of American soft power. Their uncontrolled growth and evidently corporate greed made them bend the rules when it came to sharing information about their users. The fact is that users increasingly began to be seen as ‘buckets’ of data, which could be packaged and sold to advertisers. As many policy-makers across the world looked at the United States to provide the lead; the lack of that regulation led to decimation of existing industries. The #FakeNews phenomenon, whether on the left or the right is because of Facebook and Google riding roughshod over existing print businesses and effectively stealing revenues while promising ‘eyeballs’. The need is not to break up those companies though, but to regulate them. And regulate them closely, this is exactly what happened to Microsoft in the aftermath of the Internet Explorer battle. A strict regulatory environment, easily-understood permissions for users to see how much information they give away, is important. And because companies like this are global, this has to have a global response. A criss-cross of regulations and rules will be detrimental to innovations and whether we like it or not, Facebook and Google have been innovative. Europe, and for that matter India should also work towards ensuring that their most talented individuals do not leave to work for Silicon Valley, instead create the next tech unicorn in their nation. Maybe then the jealousy factor may be ignored.
Courtesy: The Pioneer