Europe’s beef with GAFA
Big tech faces competition and privacy concerns in Brussels
And the sector may be the better for it
Around 19 in every 20 European internet searches are carried out on Google. Not those done by Margrethe Vestager. The European Union’s competition chief says she mostly looks stuff up on Qwant, which prides itself on not tracking users in the manner its larger rival does. Forget also Google Maps, or Gmail, or any other product from the Alphabet stable: “I have better alternatives that provide me with more privacy,” the Danish politician recently told a crowd at SXSW, an annual festival of tech, music and thought in Austin, Texas.
Ms Vestager is hardly at the vanguard of a movement: even in its domestic French market, Qwant has less than 1% market share. Nor, at first, might her focus on privacy seem linked to her trustbusting brief. But, as she has explained, popular services like Facebook use their customers as part of the “production machinery”. You may not pay in cash
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