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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.

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

Over the weekend, some 40,000 Russians braved subzero temperatures to turn out in the streets in support of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. More than 3,000 protesters were arrested, and Navalny called on his followers to prepare for more action in the coming weeks.

But just who is Alexei Navalny, and how significant is the threat that he may pose to Vladimir Putin's stranglehold on power in Russia?

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take (part 1):

Ian Bremmer here, happy Monday. And have your Quick Take to start off the week.

Maybe start off with Biden because now President Biden has had a week, almost a week, right? How was it? How's he doing? Well, for the first week, I would say pretty good. Not exceptional, but not bad, not bad. Normal. I know everyone's excited that there's normalcy. We will not be excited there's normalcy when crises start hitting and when life gets harder and we are still in the middle of a horrible pandemic and he has to respond to it. But for the first week, it was okay.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Russian opposition leader Navalny in jail. Hundreds of thousands demonstrating across the country in Russia over well over 100 cities, well over 3000 arrested. And Putin responding by saying that this video that was put out that showed what Navalny said was Putin's palace that costs well over a billion dollars to create and Putin, I got to say, usually he doesn't respond to this stuff very quickly. Looked a little defensive, said didn't really watch it, saw some of it, but it definitely wasn't owned by him or owned by his relatives.

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Even as vaccines roll out around the world, COVID-19 is continuing to spread like wildfire in many places, dashing hopes of a return to normal life any time soon. Some countries, like Israel and the UK for instance, have been praised for their inoculation drives, while still recording a high number of new cases. It's clear that while inoculations are cause for hope, the pace of rollouts cannot keep up with the fast-moving virus. Here's a look at the countries that have vaccinated the largest percentages of their populations so far – and a snapshot of their daily COVID caseloads (7-day rolling average) in recent weeks.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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