Europe is starting to get feisty in striking back at U.S. tech titans. On top of the European commission suing Google for antitrust practices and a 25,000-person class-action suit against Facebook, an unnamed European wireless carrier is considering blocking Google’s ads until Google gives it a cut of its ad revenue, says the Financial Times.
Blocking Google ads is still just a possibility, but that unnamed European carrier has already installed ad blockers in its data centers and plans to block ads by the end of 2015—and so will some of its peers, an executive from the European carrier told the Financial Times. The ad-blocking software, by Israeli startup Shine, blocks ads loading in web pages and apps, though not “in-feed” ads like those in Facebook. Those plans do not sound set in stone, but if the European carriers end up using the ad blockers, tens of millions of mobile subscribers around the world could opt in to ad blocking by the end of the year—which could have serious impact on the online advertising world, Shine’s chief marketing officer Roi Carthy told the Financial Times.
The plan to block Google ads specifically, apparently called “the bomb,” may violate net neutrality rules wherein all data must be treated the same, concedes the European carrier executive. But blocking ads for an hour or two a day might bring Google to the negotiating table, the executive told the Financial Times. Even if “the bomb” is not used, the audacity to blackmail Google shows European businesses are growing bolder.
Google’s ads are the subject of another EU inquiry: how paid-for links and advertisements affect search results. The investigation is part of a larger EU-wide effort to combat Silicon Valley’s influence by forming a “unified digital marketplace” between 28 European countries. By streamlining copyright barriers and lowering shipping costs, the EU hopes that its unified marketplace will be able compete with U.S. tech giants—and bring more effective legal challenges against the tech firms, if necessary.
Facebook has also seen bolder European scrutiny. Today the Belgian privacy commission has told the social media giant to stop tracking activities of people who have not registered with the site or who have logged out, reports The Guardian. Weeks ago, a report commissioned by the Belgian data protection agency showed that Facebook tracks people on non-Facebook sites via cookies. The Belgian privacy commission noted that if Facebook did not mend its ways by following the commission’s recommendations, it would take legal action.
[via The Verge]