UK Health Minister Matt Hancock signaled on Times Radio that the government in London should follow the way of Australia, which is trying to force Facebook to pay for the content of Australian publishers distributed on their sites. The politician emphasized that he is a “great admirer” of countries that have declared war on media giants, such as Australia and Canada.
Australia at war with GAFAM
Canberra has entered a dispute with Facebook over a parliamentary law to force large digital platforms to pay for Australian publishers’ content posted on their sites. The website, in response to the actions of the Australian government, blocked access to news articles for the residents of this country. It even got to the point that government sites were also temporarily blocked. But Facebook’s actions only reassured Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government that it is on the right path. Morrison assured that GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) cannot be intimidated. Facebook supported Google in protest, but the latter company made concessions and has already signed several contracts with Australian publishers. The British Daily Mail argues that the Minister of Culture of Great Britain, Oliver Dowden, sees what happened in Australia as “disturbing”, and it is he who is to negotiate with Facebook.
Canada also wants to follow in the footsteps of Australia, where the Ministry of Heritage and Culture is already working on similar regulations. The Minister of Culture, Steven Guillebault, emphasized that the governments of France, Finland and Germany are also negotiating with the companies forming GAFAM. In his opinion, a coalition of up to 15 countries may soon form against the monopolists. It should be emphasized here that the need to take such measures was signaled in Canada as early as 2019. Some proposals were even included in the election program of the currently ruling party.
Politicians are happy but not supportive
But is it too late? Are states able to break the monopoly of Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon? If Australia and Canada do not break, and other countries follow them, will we be able to talk about the beginning of the end of the GAFAM monopoly?
An interesting opinion on this subject was recently shared by Dr. Jacek Bartosiak in an interview with Grzegorz Sroczyński on TOK FM. The well-known analyst reminded that in the past, the place of Facebook or Google was taken by oil tycoons and the steel industry.
The first gas or electricity suppliers had an amazing career until they were finally nationalized. If you are a supplier of something that has become a necessary line of communication for life, sooner or later politicians will lay a hand on it and there will be a war
—Marked the head of Strategy & Future.
Bartosiak in his speech also referred to the blocking of Donald Trump’s accounts by Twitter and Facebook. In his opinion, although it might have pleased Joe Biden, politicians in general are “sensitive” to it.
In my opinion, when Donald Trump was blocked, Biden may have been a bit happy, but if I know politicians, and they are sensitive to it, an idea appeared immediately how to curb it. Because a politician cannot depend on Twitter. Certainly all politicians think so and there will be a great battle to bring the giants back to power, there will be anti-trust laws, just like they were for the steel industry
What will the European Commission do?
So did Twitter and Facebook condemn themselves by blocking Trump? Perhaps they sped up some actions. Note that although the world leaders were relieved to accept Joe Biden’s win, after a few days they decided to criticize the actions taken by Twitter and Facebook. They knew very well that the action taken by both services was a step too far. The latter issue was raised in a letter to the head of the European Commission by Axel Springer, Director General Mathias Döpfner.
In a very strong letter to chairwoman Ursula von der Leyen, which, incidentally, was not reported in the Polish media (Sroczyński mentioned in an interview with Bartosiak), Döpfner emphasized that large technology companies should not have private data of citizens. According to Döpfner, the European Union should prohibit GAFAM from storing private data and using this data for commercial purposes. Moreover, he emphasizes that the weakening of data protection cannot be agreed, even in the name of free consent to its processing.
An interesting part in this letter is about Trump. Although Döpfner admits that “intuitively” we get the impression that the blocking of the ex-president’s accounts was “right”, he wonders whether it is right for a “capitalist corporation to decide what politicians can say and to whom?” The president of the European Commission wrote back to Döpfner in a similar vein. The former head of German national defense said that while it was “tempting” to disable Trump’s account, in her opinion such “serious interference with freedom of speech should not be based solely on the corporate framework.” Who is to set them? The head of the European Commission clearly points to politicians.
Before us is an extremely interesting battle for power, money and freedom of speech …
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