Eric Schmidt, Googles previous executive chairman. Picture: Getty
Silicon Valley is a truth distortion field whose residents think about it as the Florence of Renaissance 2.0. (Rapidly gotten wealth has effective imaginary impacts on individuals.) In a weird method, they share the previous United States defence secretary Donald Rumsfelds view of our continent as old Europe, a civilisation whose time has actually reoccured. When German people object intensely to having their houses photographed by Google Street View, or the Bundestag thinks about a law that would enforce swingeing fines on social media business that do not without delay eliminate hate speech from their services, or the European commission enforces a great equivalent to 3% of Googles international profits, they fume into their almond-coconut Frappuccinos and vow vengeance.
If thats how they see things, then its time they recalibrated. They are all kids of a hegemony thats started to deteriorate. When Europeans and their federal governments quailed prior to American business power might be ending, the age. The French were constantly a bit resistant to it (however then, being French, they would be, wouldnt they?) Now even the Germans have actually concluded that Europe can no longer rely on the United States (or the UK) and should battle for its own fate. In such a way, the US-based digital giants ought to thank their fortunate stars that Europe, for the many part, still includes societies where the guideline of law counts for something. Even when the business do not like the result of our legal procedures, they ought to be grateful that a minimum of we follow them.
The very same can not be stated for other parts of the world that Google &co wish to control. China and Russia do things their own method, for instance, and are completely untroubled by legal niceties. As far as China is worried, in 2010 Google was offered the option of following federal government needs or closing down its Chinese online search engine; it picked the latter alternative and is needing to consent to federal government controls if it is to be permitted back. In Russia, Google reached a settlement with the regional regulator to loosen up limitations on online search engine constructed into its Android mobile os, to enable Russian rivals a share of the pie. Comparable concessions will be needed to run in Iran and other Middle Eastern states. These programs are the genuine opponents that United States paranoids need to fear. While the 2.4 bn fine might be unpalatable (though quickly cost effective) for Google, it ought to thank its fortunate stars. A minimum of it got a hearing.
John Naughton is teacher of the general public understanding of innovation at the Open University. He composes a weekly column in The New Review.