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Tags: Google | regulation | Europe | siege

Google Under Regulation Siege in Europe

Thursday, 25 February 2010 10:26 AM

Google Inc. is under siege in Europe, where its bold ambitions have raised alarms.

The Internet giant has tangled with regulators, lawmakers and consumer watchdogs over privacy concerns, copyright protection and the sheer dominance of its search engine.

This week the European Commission launched an antitrust probe of the Mountain View, Calif., company in response to complaints from three European search sites. Also this week an Italian court convicted three Google executives in absentia of violating privacy laws there.

"Europeans have a much longer history of pursuing these issues than we do," said Palo Alto attorney Gary Reback, who represents a coalition opposed to giving Google the digital rights to millions of hard-to-find books. "These issues are serious and they are not going to go away."

The latest spate of troubles come on the heels of heated debates over Google's digital scanning of books in France and the company's plans to roll out its Street View service in Germany.

"This is just another case of Google naively believing that the work it does will be celebrated everywhere," said Siva Vaidhyanathan, a University of Virginia professor who is writing a book about the Internet giant. "Google is going to have to tread more lightly in Europe and around the world."

The stakes are high as Google's overseas operations have grown increasingly important. The company generated more than half of its revenue overseas in 2009. Western Europe is a key market for Google. Google collected about $3 billion or 13% of its 2009 revenue from Britain alone.

"One could easily argue that Google has far greater market share in certain important European markets than in the United States," Standard & Poor's analyst Scott Kessler said.

Google said it would appeal the conviction of three of its executives for violating Italian privacy laws Wednesday, calling it an "astonishing" attack on online freedom of expression. The company warned that the ruling could have a chilling effect on user-generated content in Europe.

To read full Los Angeles Times story — Go Here Now.

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Thursday, 25 February 2010 10:26 AM
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