Quantcast
Connect with us

European publishing mogul accuses Google of developing a digital ‘superstate’

Published

on

Mathias Döpfner, head of Europe’s largest newspaper publisher, says internet search engine is abusing market dominance

The chief executive of Europe’s largest newspaper publisher has accused Google of abusing a monopoly position in the digital economy to discriminate against competitors and build up a “superstate.”

In an open letter to Google’s Eric Schmidt published in Wednesday’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the head of Germany’s Axel Springer SE publishing house, Mathias Döpfner, said the US company was operating a business model that “in less reputable circles would be called a protection racket”, discriminating against competitors in its search rankings. Google’s motto was “if you don’t want us to finish you off, you better pay”, he said.

Döpfner — whose publishing portfolio includes Europe’s best-selling newspaper, the tabloid Bild, as well as the centre-right broadsheet Die Welt — admitted that his own company was completely reliant on Google, a fact that made him and other publishers scared.

“Google’s employees are always decidedly friendly to us and other publishing houses, but we don’t communicate on a level playing field. How could we? Google doesn’t need us. But we need Google.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Döpfner argued that there had been a “fundamental shift in opinion” about Google among European citizens since Edward Snowden had revealed “close connections between big US online providers and the US intelligence agencies” last year. “No one knows as much about its customers as Google. Even private and business emails are read by Gmail and analysed if the need exists,” he said. He described the view, which he attributed to both Schmidt and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg in response to the NSA revelations, that “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”, as disconcerting.

“It stands for a mental attitude and a view of the world that is common in totalitarian regimes, not in free societies. The head of the Stasi or any other secret service in a dictatorship could have come out with a line like that.”

Referring to Google’s recent acquisition of drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace he said: “Is Google really planning a digital superstate … ? Please, dear Eric, explain to us why this interpretation of what [Google co-founder] Larry Page does and says is just a misunderstanding.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Responding to an opinion piece by Schmidt published in the same newspaper, Döpfner denied that his concerns were born of a “Luddite conspiracy theory.”

“To criticise Google is not to criticise the internet. Those who are interested in a flawlessly functioning internet have to criticise Google. For us as a publishing house the internet is not a threat but one of the greatest chances in recent decades.”

Döpfner, a former journalist who wrote a PhD thesis on the history of German postwar music criticism before editing a string of newspapers, also took to task the work of the European competition regulators, who in February reached a settlement with Google after investigating the company in an anti-trust inquiry.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Will European politicians fold or wake up? Institutions in Brussels have never been as important as they are now,” he said.

In Germany, Axel Springer has in the past been accused of exercising a monopoly role similar to the one Döpfner accuses Google of benefiting from. Its newspapers’ largely conservative views turned the publishing house into one of the main bogeymen of the 1968 student movement.

Recently, Axel Springer SE has expanded to eastern Europe but closed down some of its magazines and local newspapers with the reported aim of concentrating on its expansion as a digital media company.

ADVERTISEMENT

© Guardian News and Media 2014

[Image via Agence France-Presse]


Report typos and corrections to [email protected].

Send confidential news tips to [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

Trump’s racism is ‘disqualifying’ for him to remain as president: former White House lawyer

Published

on

Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal explained on MSNBC on Thursday why he viewed President Donald Trump's racist attacks on four women of color in Congress as disqualifying.

Anchor Brian Williams read a quote from Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

"Half of the country is appalled but not really sure how to combat him; the other half is cheering, or at least averting its gaze. This is what a political civil war looks like, with words, for now, as weapons," Glasser wrote.

Continue Reading

Facebook

Lawrence O’Donnell reports on the growing movement for the impeachment of President Donald Trump

Published

on

Anchor Lawrence O'Donnell reported on the growing movement for the impeachment of President Donald Trump during Thursday evening's "The Last Word" on MSNBC.

"The House of Representatives conducted a symbolic vote on a hastily written impeachment resolution by Democratic Congressman Al Green in reaction to the president’s tweeted comments that the House of Representatives voted to condemn as racist," O'Donnell reported. "The impeachment resolution had nothing to do with the [Robert] Mueller investigation and referred only to the president being unfit for office because of the language that he has used recently about members of Congress and immigrants and asylum seekers."

Continue Reading
 

Facebook

Video proves how far the Trump’s GOP has gone from the era of Ronald Reagan and HW Bush

Published

on

The immigration policies of Donald Trump’s presidency would have no room for his GOP predecessors Ronald Reagan or George H.W. Bush—who both embraced work visas, family unification, easy border crossings and a better relationship with Mexico.

That counterpoint can be seen in a very short video clip from the 1980 presidential election where Reagan and Bush—who became Reagan’s vice president for two terms before winning the presidency in 1988—were asked about immigration at a campaign debate in Texas. Their responses show just how far to the right the Republican Party’s current leader, President Trump, and voters who have not left the GOP to become self-described political independents, have moved on immigration.

Continue Reading
 
 
 

Copyright © 2019 Raw Story Media, Inc. PO Box 21050, Washington, D.C. 20009 | Masthead | Privacy Policy | For corrections or concerns, please email [email protected]

Join Me. Try Raw Story Investigates for $1. Invest in Journalism. Escape Ads.
close-image