90% Customer Satisfaction Too Much for Brussels

Brussels and Spain both stepped up attacks on Google over the past few days. Let’s dive into the insanity with a Mish-translated report from Les Echos: Brussels Ready to Revive Showdown with Google

Pressure from Brussels increases on Google. The European Commission demands further concessions and seeks to end anti-competitive practices of which Google is accused. This could happen as soon as September.

Google is accused of enjoying ultra-dominant (market share of over 90% in research) in so-called “specialized research” – to purchase a product or for travel, a map search, for example.

Currently, a user who wants to buy coffee through Google is systematically given Google Shopping links in addition to “natural link results” at the expense of competitors such as Kelkoo Twenga. This constitutes “preferential treatment”.

In response, Google has proposed that Google Shopping services of its competitors – chosen after auctioning three places available – would be placed side by side at the top, with pictures. These proposals were considered insufficient by Google competitors.


Heaven forbid 90% of consumers be satisfied with the way something works.

If consumers weren’t satisfied or if they thought some other search mechanism was better, they would use it. But Brussels steps in and demands Google change its ways.

Google offered to do so, but was turned down. Competitors want more free money at the expense of Google.

Satisfied customers be damned.

Most Infamous Law in Internet History

As ridiculous as that sounds, Spain went a huge step forward. Huky Guru explains in his post The Most Infamous Law in Internet History

Today, July 22, the Committee on Culture of Congress passed with 22 votes in favor and 20 against the draft text to amend the Copyright Act, probably the most infamous law of history of the Internet in Spain.

Congress today approved the so-called AEDE canon (Association of Spanish Newspaper Publishers) also known as the Google rate: A rate at which an inalienable right to periodically update any website automatically generates a right to collect on any other website is created that link collection right to be raised by a body which SGAE and distributed among its members. [short description: If you link to someone, you have to pay a  pay a fee].

As provided for by law, Google News, Meneame, Zite, Flipboad, Facebook, RSS readers, and Twitter will have to pay fees for any web link to a Spanish newspaper.

Moreover, in theory, if any website links to us or uses any other blog they are also likely to be assessed  a fee, but we have put our content under Creative Commons licensing.

Internet Free Speech Vanishes in Spain

In Spain, the right to quote or comment on an article, an essence of free speech, just vanished out the door.

Reader Bran, who lives in Spain, offers these thoughts:

  • The law penalizes, almost criminalizes internet links. 
  • AEDE reckons it will raise 80 million from the tax. 
  • Huky says the 80 million figure is imaginary because the only site that is truly taxable for profit is Google news. Yet, Google news is profitless in Spain so Google could simply close it down. 

Guru hits the nail squarely on the head in several of the points he makes, paraphrased as follows:

Google, Twitter, Meneame, Facebook and other social networks are today the biggest source of traffic to the websites of newspapers. People are not on the website of El Pais, El Mundo, in La Razon, or Gurusblog. People on the internet are in social networks or search engines that provide the news content or links to news content they seek. Killing links puts a huge barrier on entry. Links allows you to discover things, new pages, new media.

What now?

Well frankly right now I’m not optimistic. The consequences will be devastating and will come back strongly against those who promoted the idea unless the EU kills the setup.


Guru proposed incorporating in a foreign country such as Belize to escape the fees.

As a US citizen, living in the US, I can easily say “F* the EU” let them try and collect, just as I did with an absurd fine from France that I refuse to pay. (For details, please see Lawyer Advises Me “Don’t Go to France”)

Could the same absurd thing happen here?

Before answering, here’s a thought that just popped into my head: “Stupidity propagates far faster than common sense.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock