Google knows very well that there is a lot at stake. This week, Madhav Chinnappa, one of Google’s news directors, visited the Czech Republic. In an interview with Hospodářské noviny, he reiterated that Google does not intend to pay the Czech publishers for displaying their content either.
Paradoxically, Chinnappa gave the interview to a daily newspaper whose publisher, Economia, is receiving Google grants. The situation in other countries is similar. Google bribes some media or non-profit organizations to do its lobbying work for it. It is no coincidence that the chief of Czech Google recently announced that the company is launching the Grow with Google: Academy for NGOs in Czechia.
It is clear what the tech giant’s motives are. When it comes to the fight for billions earned thanks to someone else’s work, some NGOs will write letters to politicians aiming to convince them about the freedom of the Internet or innovation being suppressed. The tech giant behind this pressure will, of course, be invisible. And if someone points out the link between Google and the NGOs, he or she will be labeled as a Russian agent and an enemy of the non-profit sector.
This is a highly probable scenario, and politicians along with publishers should not allow it to happen. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have already indicated what is at stake. Both politicians urged national and European antitrust authorities to act as soon as possible. French publishers have also turned to national regulators.
It is not yet clear how the French authorities will decide, but we should realize that there is much more to this issue other than the publishers ́ business models. If Google gets away by ignoring the law, what will prevent it from attacking other segments of the economy?
In fact, it is already happening and Google will not spare anyone. Just look at the company’s football score service or their airline ticket offerings, which are services that Google simply operates with an algorithm that draws from someone else’s content. As a result, such practices can be harmful to established companies, such as the successful Czech company Livesport, which lists sports information and scores or the Czech online travel agency Kiwi.com.
Google, in cooperation with NGOs and various parties agitating against “the system”, such as the Pirate Party in the Czech Republic, is currently trying to create the impression that publishers want to take advantage of a successful business and destroy innovation, freedom, and who knows what else.
The essence of the dispute is, however, the maintenance of a functioning free market, which ceases to exist when there is an absolute monopoly, especially when that monopoly refuses to respect the law.