Europe is quickly tiring of US tech companies that are relentlessly expanding, and subverting local culture and business with their crafty algorithms and self-promotional search results. Google is a case in point. For 4 years, the issue of Google’s 90% monopoly in European markets has come under harsh criticism from the highest authorities in Europe – the European Commission and the European Parliament. Here in Europe, there are moves afoot to break up Google into 2 distinct companies as a legal showdown ensues in the way the tech company displays search-related content and privacy considerations.
Currently Google has agreed to remove user-related personal content (under certain conditions) from its European sites, but not from Google.com. This has presented a dilemma for privacy advocates on one hand and for freedom of speech advocates on the other. Europeans want Google to abide by the cultural norms and practices of Europe, not a culturally imperialistic Google that overreaches into foreign cyberspace. And the right to be forgotten is widely regarded as a sticking point, as Google is not playing ball.
US Tech Giants Have Dropped Anchor in European Cyberspace
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But sadly for US companies, it’s not only Google that has folks here in Europe concerned. It’s Apple, Facebook and Amazon too. These tech giants are the ‘Poster Children’ of American cultural imperialism and they’ve aroused the ire of Europeans to the point where they’ve now been bundled together under the acronym – GAFA (Google – Apple – Facebook – Amazon). This term is widely used in France, where you’ll likely see it popping up on blogs, newspapers and television. It has become the latest social campaign against what is perceived to be the rapidly encroaching US cultural imperialism in Europe.
GAFA first came to prominence at the end of 2012, but it has been regularly featured since then. Many in Europe are increasingly irate about the conduct of these tech giants. The perception is that they do everything in their power to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, they overwhelm European cyberspace with their preferred search results, products and services and they do not consider European privacy a high priority. They may be innovative tech companies in the US, but they are seen in a less positive light in France and beyond. The French are known to be particularly resistant to what they perceive as US hegemony – especially in a cultural sense. There are many examples of how this resistance has played out in Europe. Consider the sheep farmer – Jose Bove – who wrecked a McDonald’s store 15 years ago and became an overnight symbol of the anti-globalization movement.
Where to next for GAFA?
Europe is in a constant state of flux, what with recessionary fears mounting by the day and plunging oil prices further destabilizing global markets. Add to that the overwhelming dominance of Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon (GAFA) in our daily lives and it’s clear that there is resentment among many folks. The European Parliament voted on the 27 November to break Google up into 2 unique companies – one for its search functions and one for its other services. The motion will now be moved to the European Commission, since Parliament has no power to make this happen. The mood of the moment is definitely anti-US cultural imperialism, and there is plenty of momentum driving this forward. Watch this space…[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]