[OPINION] Google and Facebook are strangling the free press to death. Democracy is the loser

EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager holds a press conference on a Competition Case involving Google Android /The Guardian


As gatekeepers to the news, Google and Facebook pose dangers to even the most successful outlets. Legislators need to speed the process of bringing them to heel

By Barry Lynn | The Guardian

(Editor’s note:Opinion pieces are published for discussions purposes only.)

‘Of all the social goods now in flames the one we must protect first is trustworthy journalism.’

After Europe’s top monopoly buster Margrethe Vestager fined Google more than $5B for abusing its dominance over mobile phone technology, it’s tempting to relax about the power of big tech. Not only is there a cop watching these giants, she’s carrying a really big stick.

But this week’s firing by the New York Daily Newsof half the paper’s staff shines a different light on the matter. The reason given by the publisher – a sharp decline in revenue – is largely the result of Google abusing its monopoly over online advertising, in tandem with Facebook. Vestager’s move against Android does nothing to protect the free press in Europe or America. This means it’s time for other regulators and legislators in America and in Europe to speed the process of bringing Google to heel.

To be sure, the decision by Europe’s Directorate General for Competition (DG Comp) last Wednesday is important. The fat fine was the clearest statement yet that Google’s practices break the law. Further, the restrictions DG Comp imposed on Google’s business model will crimp its behavior in key ways. Vestager and her team deserve thanks. Given the political power of Google, their actions took courage.


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