According to two separate sources, Google’s secret attack plan against Europe’s planned Digital Services Act has leaked. According to French publication Le Point (“How Google Wants to Bend Brussels“):
Le Point is aware of a document (which Google has neither confirmed nor denied) which appears to be a presentation intended to mobilize the search engine’s lobbying teams located in Brussels and Mountain View, California. Entitled “DSA 60-Day Plan Update”, it is accompanied, at the bottom of the first page, with the words “Privileged & Need-to-know” (confidential access, to be shared only between those who need to know).
Google is planning an aggressive campaign targeted against French commissioner Thierry Breton [the European Commissioner for Internal Markets] and other regulators in Brussels over their plans to introduce new laws to curb the power of big tech, according to a leaked internal document. The report, written in response to the EU’s plan to introduce a sweeping new Digital Services Act, laid out a two-month strategy intended to remove “unreasonable constraints” to Google’s business model and “reset the political narrative” around the proposed legislation….
The leak of the internal document lays bare the tactics that big tech companies employ behind the scenes to manipulate public discourse and influence lawmakers….The revelations are set to create new tensions between the EU and Google, which are already engaged in tough discussions about how the internet should be regulated. They are also likely to trigger further debate within Brussels, where regulators hold divergent positions on the possibility of breaking up big tech companies….
Among the other tactics outlined in the report were objectives to “undermine the idea DSA has no cost to Europeans” and “show how the DSA limits the potential of the internet . . . just as people need it the most”. The campaign document also shows that Google will seek out “more allies” in its fight to influence the regulation debate in Brussels, including enlisting the help of Europe-based platforms such as Booking.com. Booking.com told the FT: “We have no intention of co-operating with Google on upcoming EU platform regulation. Our interests are diametrically opposed.”
We’ve seen this movie before, of course–Google doesn’t actually need real flesh and blood “allies”, they are fully capable of creating them through spam campaigns and Internet Research Agency/50 Cent Wu Mao Army style bot armies to push their message on social media.
And it’s only a matter of time until Google overplays its hand with lobbying tactics as they did with the European Copyright Directive which itself is being passed in European parliaments at this very moment. Expect more of the same.
It boils down to American social media companies interfering in European policymaking and eventually elections including through unregistered lobbyists.
Google (and of course, Facebook and Twitter) make no bones about it as former MEP Helga Truepel found out.
So fasten your seatbelts, we are about to be treated to another all-out lobbying blitz by Google to protect its massive income transfer as conducted by officials like commissioner Thierry Breton. Mr. Breton recently described Google as being “too big to care” about those pesky nation states.
Mr. Breton has actually put his finger right on the issue–the competition penalties were designed to get the attention of companies that care about the penalty enough to change their behavior. Google looks at the series of multi-billion dollar fines in Europe as a cost of doing business. Do they want to pay billions in fines? No. Do they really care all that much when they are sitting on a cash position of over $100 billion? Absolutely not.
So the competition regulators are coming to the realization that unless they are willing to hit Google with what will seem like an astronomical but attention-grabbing fine (that Google will surely appeal and get reduced), their alternative is more behavioral than monetary. When it comes to a company like Google that typically means either jail time for executives or forced divestment. Prison or break up.
It looks increasingly like break up is going to be the answer (although you never know where a crime is going to crop up once you start looking for one or a thousand crimes).
While Mr. Breton may be right about Google being too big to care, they are not too big to care about divestment. How that divestment is accomplished is another story entirely, but if it were me I would start with search, YouTube and Android.