The New Protectionism?

A deep cultural divide between the US and Europe in their approaches to Silicon Valley has thrust European officials into the role of global tech-industry cops.

Notice that.  The EU is looking to dictate to the world how other nations’ businesses must conduct themselves, whether in Europe or not.  This “thrust” is an economic matter, too, so the question arises concerning just how much culture actually plays—or is it an economic matter.  And since the economics of the thing is aimed at protecting EU companies, the underlying question comes clear: is the EU protecting against unfair practices, or is it just protecting its domestic businesses from competition, a competition EU companies lose because they can’t keep up—especially under the costs inflicted by, for instance, the EU’s own labor laws?

And this:

Just Friday, Germany approved new legislation imposing €50 million fines on social-media companies that fail to quickly remove hate speech and terrorist content—over strident opposition from and other tech companies, which advocate self-regulation to tackle those problems. That step followed the €2.42 billion ($2.76 billion) fine that the European Union’s executive arm levied this week against Alphabet Inc’s Google for abusing its dominance as a search engine.

The concept of “free” speech is dragged in through the EU’s and now Germany’s imposed limitations on that, which have economic opportunity implications far beyond the mere freedom question raised in that post.

The Republic of Korea is considering using this sort of thing nakedly for protectionism.

South Korea’s antitrust chief told the Yonhap News Agency he will examine how to curb the market clout of Google and Facebook.

No fair.  Those guys are competing too successfully.

My thought isn’t new.  Ex-President Barack Obama (D)

said the EU’s investigations into big US tech companies were “more commercially driven than anything else,” suggesting the EU was trying to help out European competitors.

It’s just becoming more obvious.

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