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GOOGLE AND THE EU: JUST FINE THANKS

GOOGLE AND THE EU: JUST FINE THANKS

On Wednesday, the European Union slapped Google with a record $5 billion antitrust fine, the latest in a string of judgments levied by EU competition czar Margrethe Vestager against US tech companies that dominate the mobile, online advertising, and internet search markets.


This is “Team Europe: Internet Police” in action: by taking on what they consider to be Silicon Valley’s excessive clout (in this case, the EU says Google used the market dominance of its Android operating system to force consumers to use its search engine), European regulators are seeking to shape the ways that global tech companies do business locally. If Google fails to get the case overturned on appeal, it’ll have to make big changes to the way it operates in the EU and, potentially, elsewhere.

A few thoughts from our own tech czar Kevin Allison:

This is not just a European phenomenon. Governments around the world are racing to assert sovereignty over an unruly and rapidly expanding digital sphere. Whether it’s the EU getting tough on antitrust or data protection, Russia requiring tech companies to store citizens’ personal data inside the country, or China banning foreign websites to support its domestic tech sector, the “World Wide Web” is starting to look like a patchwork of “Narrow National Webs” where regulatory regimes differ from one another.

It poses existential questions for tech firms: As the global regulatory landscape fragments, should Silicon Valley’s tech giants adopt different business models for different markets, depending on local requirements? Or should they engage in a race to the top, redesigning their businesses to comply with whoever’s rules are the strictest? What if they push back against the regulatory onslaught by threatening to withhold their business from countries where the cost of complying with national rules has become too high? Whatever the answer, the freewheeling, libertarian dream that inspired the founders of many of the West’s biggest tech companies is fading fast, and local politics are becoming a global challenge for the tech giants.

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It almost didn't happen — but here we are again. President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden face off tonight in the final presidential debate of the 2020 US election campaign.

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Back in 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump presented his vision for an "America First" foreign policy, which symbolized a radical departure from the US' longtime approach to international politics and diplomacy.

In electing Donald Trump, a political outsider, to the top job, American voters essentially gave him a mandate to follow through on these promises. So, has he?

Trade

"A continuing rape of our country."

On the 2016 campaign trail, candidate Trump said that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a 12 country trade deal pushed by the Obama administration — would "rape" America's economy by imperiling the manufacturing sector, closing factories, and taking more jobs overseas.

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In an op-ed titled "Iran Arms Embargo Reckoning," the Wall Street Journal editorial board argues that ending the UN arms embargo on Iran was a major flaw of the 2015 nuclear deal and questions whether Biden could do anything to contain Iran at this point. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's Henry Rome take out the Red Pen to explain why this discussion misrepresents the importance of the embargo and the consequences for its expiration.

So, the US presidential election is now just days away, and today's selection is focusing on a specific aspect of foreign policy that will certainly change depending on who wins in the presidential contest—namely America's approach to Iran.

You've heard me talk before about the many similarities between Trump and Biden on some international policies, like on China or on Afghanistan. But Iran is definitely not one of those. Trump hated the JCPOA, the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, put together under the Obama administration, and he walked away from it unilaterally. Joe Biden, if he were to become president, would try to bring it back.

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Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, US President George W. Bush demanded that Afghanistan's Taliban government surrender Osama bin Laden and end support for al-Qaeda. The Taliban refused.

On October 7, US bombs began falling on Taliban forces. NATO allies quickly pledged support for the US, and US boots hit the ground in Afghanistan two weeks later.

Thus began a war, now the longest in US history, that has killed more than 3,500 coalition soldiers and 110,000 Afghans. It has cost the American taxpayer nearly $3 trillion. US allies have also made human and material sacrifices.

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