back to article Lovely website you got there. Would be a shame if we, er, someone were to sink it: Google warns EU link tax will magnify media monetary misery

Google is warning publishers that online visitor traffic – which drives ad revenue – could plummet as much as 45 per cent if the contentious Copyright Directive being considered by European lawmakers goes forward. The European Parliament is trying to revise its copyright regime and the proposed alteration includes two articles …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Ah, capitalism at its best

    Google is basically claiming that, if it cannot continue making almost all the money, then other people will suffer.

    Here's hoping that the EU will not be impressed by that.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

      Hating Google does not make everything they say wrong. The claim that link taxes hurt the businesses they were supposed to help has been tested and found to be true - twice. News sites in Spain spent years trying to get such a law repealed because it did them so much financial damage.

      By all means hate Google with almost every waking moment so it drives every possibility of enjoyment from your life but please consider the collateral damage to other people. Google can promptly stop linking to any site demanding money. Think of the smaller sites, having to check every hour to see if the target of any link has started asking for money. Please take a two minute break from your hatred each day to think of something that will actually do some good.

      There are other search engines. Pick one.

      1. Jemma Silver badge

        Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

        Yes there are other search engines but have you noticed that oddly enough when you select to use them not long after you find you are back using Google again automagically - or that your browser only has Google & Bullshitipedia as search options and apparently nothing else exists?

        Cos I have. I'll specifically set cm or opera to use duckduckgo - go to use the browser shortly thereafter and the search settings have gone back to Google. It happens more in phones than PC but it shouldn't be happening at all.

        1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

          Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

          Firefox doesn't keep changing your search engine back. Set mine to use DuckDuckGo months back and it's not changed (Across all 5 of the devices i have control over).

          1. MiguelC Silver badge

            Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

            the same goes for chrome.... although I seldom use it, it never changed the search engine I set long long ago

          2. VikiAi Bronze badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

            I use StartPage and while it isn't included in FireFox or Chrome's default search options, it is easy enough to open preferences and add it. Or just click on the helpful links on the StartPage entry page itself to have it automagically added to the options and set as default.

            Anyone who can't handle clicking a hyperlink should probably not be on the web. It is sort of an expected skill in the domain!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

          "I'll specifically set cm or opera to use duckduckgo - go to use the browser shortly thereafter and the search settings have gone back to Google"

          Are these shared devices and people just prefer other options?

          I've never seen this happen on phones (and generally have the opposite issue when assisting people, struggling to reset settings back to defaults after someone tried something new) and have only seen it on Windows when profiles are corrupt/not saving so that the default settings are applied at each logon.

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

          "your browser only has Google & Bullshitipedia as search options and apparently nothing else exists?"

          Here's a tip:

          1. Navigate to the search engine of your choice on the browser of your choice.

          2. Find your browser's setting for home page - every browser I've seen has one so if yours doesn't try a different browser.

          3. Select the current page option - see comment on 2.

          4. Save the setting.

          5. When you want to search just go to your home page.

        4. tapemonkey
          Devil

          Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

          Just because you do not know how to use a device correctly is not Googles or any other search engines fault. Heres a thought try Googling the solution

          1. Public Citizen
            Boffin

            Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

            Here's a better idea:

            Do a web search on the matter that doesn't involve the use of Google.

            By the time you figure out how to do that you should have no problem setting your browser so that it won't change back to Google because you haven't figured out how to set a different search engine.

        5. James O'Shea Silver badge

          Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

          "Cos I have. I'll specifically set cm or opera to use duckduckgo - go to use the browser shortly thereafter and the search settings have gone back to Google. It happens more in phones than PC but it shouldn't be happening at all."

          Most intriguing... and demonstrably not so. I am currently replying to you using Safari on a Mac; I set DuckDuckGo as the default on Safari on _all_ Macs around here literal years ago. The only ones to not have DuckDuckGo as search on Safari are used by perverts who actually like Google or (shudder) Bing, and there are only two of them (one each).

          Hmm. Maybe it's Safari, which must be superior to other browsers... ah, no. I set DuckDuckGo as the default in Firefox on Macs _and_ Windows at the same time as I set DDG in Safari. Again, with the exception of a few perverts who deliberately contaminated their systems, DDG is the default still.

          And my personal cell and tablet systems are all set to use DDG and change only when I test out a different search engine, only to be changed back to DDG after a short trial.

          I think that you're Doinig It Wrong™.

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

            used by perverts who actually like Google or (shudder) Bing, and there are only two of them (one each).

            Aaahh, that's sweet. Perhaps they'll get together one day and have little perverts.

        6. FrogsAndChips Bronze badge

          Re: have you noticed

          Yes, I've noticed that every time I change my default search engine to DuckDuckGo or Qwant, it's not long before I revert to Google. Old habits die hard I guess, and I always have that uncomfortable feeling that i'm missing some results, so I switch back to Google just to compare and don't bother to change back.

          Maybe next time I'll try harder (famous last words).

          1. DougS Silver badge

            You'd need to switch to compare

            Just add '!g' to your DDG search and it will search via Google. If I can't find what I'm looking for using DDG and think maybe Google has the answer I'll do that. Very rarely does Google get better results, a search that returns crap on DDG returns crap on Google. Maybe not the same crap, but the same (lack of) quality.

            There are other '!' codes like !a for Amazon, !e for eBay, !w Wikipedia so if you know what you are really looking for you can skip the extra step. Google won't let you do that because they would lose on the advertising dollars, gotta grab all the money they can!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: You'd need to switch to compare

              > If I can't find what I'm looking for using DDG and think maybe Google has the answer I'll do that.

              When I try that (!g in DDG), the Google page shows up saying they've detected unusual traffic from my network, and to please fill out a captcha. Which never works, it just keeps displaying a new capture. Every time.

              1. DougS Silver badge

                Re: You'd need to switch to compare

                Can't help there, it doesn't do that for me. Maybe Google is detecting the DDG bypass in your case and trying to make it a pain to use so you go direct (allowing them to collect your data!)

        7. M.V. Lipvig

          Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

          I've had a similar problem on my Samsung Android phone since the last update. Open a new window and it opens to Google, not duck, even though duck is my home page. Rolled the last update back, problem disappears. Then I tried getting Firefox on, but for "some" reason I keep getting kicked back to the Google store, which won't allow me to load Firefox.

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

            I'm sure that was just a "bug" that Google innocently introduced. I'm sure it would just be a coincidence if that also happened to be the last Android update for a few hundred million phones...

      2. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

        "Google can promptly stop linking to any site demanding money."

        Thus demonstrating that it is an abusive monopolist and needs to be broken up, for the good of the free market. I mean, Google is definitely an abusive monopolist, but this would be another confirmation.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

          @DavCrav

          "Thus demonstrating that it is an abusive monopolist and needs to be broken up"

          How? There are other search engines but people choose their favourite and Google is that. Break up Google and another will be the favourite, just a popularity thing. If the EU decide they dont want Google traffic for the businesses in the EU thats up to them, but to then cry that Google traffic falls is then just stupidity.

          "Google is definitely an abusive monopolist"

          In what way? How are they a monopolist? You might consider them abusive, others might even, but yet they are still the most popular even though there are plenty alternatives.

          1. Glen 1 Bronze badge

            Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

            "EU decide they don't want Google traffic for the businesses in the EU that's up to them, "

            If Google's search results only gave foreign results (as in no european results- only american versions of it), id have to use a different search engine, because Google will not longer be able to find what I'm looking for.

            1. 520

              Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

              If this law goes through, you won't have another search engine to go to. Did you think this will only apply to Google?

              1. FF22

                Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

                "If this law goes through, you won't have another search engine to go to. Did you think this will only apply to Google?"

                Do you really think Google will actually abandon the whole EU? It will not. Google's just using empty threats here to avoid having to pay. But if they will not be able to avoid it, they will very well pay up. And rightly so.

          2. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

            "In what way? How are they a monopolist?"

            You don't have to have 100% of the market to be a monopoly. Not according to almost every legal text. Google easily has more than 50% market share in a number of sectors, which is usually enough to be classed as a monopoly.

            E.g., Microsoft is considered a monopolist for OSes, despite Linux/MacOS existing.

            1. fishman

              Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

              " A monopoly market contains a single firm that produces goods with no close substitute, with significant barriers to entry of other firms."

              https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/121514/what-are-major-differences-between-monopoly-and-oligopoly.asp

              1. Snowbat

                Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

                Under EU competition law, a company with beyond a 40% market share may be considered to have a dominant position. A company with a dominant position has a special responsibility to ensure that its conduct does not distort competition.

                http://ec.europa.eu/competition/antitrust/procedures_102_en.html

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

          In what world is anyone forced to supply something to someone because they demand it and want to charge them for it?

          If the EU is saying what Google are doing is wrong (has anyone actually visited the Google News site to explain what is wrong with it) and they say okay we'll stop doing it. There can't be an outcry to say they must keep doing it.

          So are the EU/Media companies saying you mustn't link to us or that you must link to us. Saying you must link to us and you must pay us for being allowed to link to us, just doesn't make sense in any way, even if you hate Google.

          1. FF22

            Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

            "In what world is anyone forced to supply something to someone because they demand it and want to charge them for it?"

            Exactly. What you don't get is, however, that in this case the publishers are the ones who are expected and even forced (by strongarming them and by abuse of market power) by Google to supply content into its services, just so Google can slap and ads on them and sell that as a product, while not paying anything back to the original producers.

            "If the EU is saying what Google are doing is wrong "

            No, the EU absolutely does not say that. All it says is that you must pay the original creators of content, not just take their stuff for free and use it to generate money without paying anything back.

            "So are the EU/Media companies saying you mustn't link to us or that you must link to us. "

            No. Articles 11 is not about linking, and not about any kind of prohibition to link to anywhere. It's just Google trying to mislead the public about what this is really about so they will sympathize with their agenda. Just another reason not to give in to Google, if for nothing else, then because of this shameless lying and manipulation of public opinion.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

              "in this case the publishers are the ones who are expected and even forced (by strongarming them and by abuse of market power) by Google to supply content into its services, just so Google can slap and ads on them and sell that as a product,"

              "you must pay the original creators of content, not just take their stuff for free"

              Are you and the EU visiting a different version of Google News to me?

      3. FF22

        Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

        "Hating Google does not make everything they say wrong."

        Saying that hating Google does not make everything they say wrong doesn't make anything they say right.

        "The claim that link taxes hurt the businesses they were supposed to help has been tested and found to be true - twice."

        No, it wasn't. What was proven was that if you leave this an option and not compulsory then a large entity like Google can strongarm smaller businesses into whatever it wants them to do, and can play them against each other.

        "News sites in Spain "

        No, it wasn't "news sites in Spain". It was "_some_ news sites in Spain". You can't do justice for everyone. Also shilling.

        "Google can promptly stop linking to any site demanding money."

        No, they can't. I mean theoretically they could, but in reality they will not as long as the fee they have pay is compulsory, and they can't play publishers against each other. Google simply can not afford to exclude the whole EU from its index, because competitors willing jump in no time in its place.

        "Think of the smaller sites, having to check every hour to see if the target of any link has started asking for money."

        Yeah, that's not how Article 11 works. You don't actually have to pay for links - and it's not a tax either. It's just Google trying to reframe Article 11 as a "link tax" to scare ignorant people and to build on the general hatred against taxes.

        "Please take a two minute break from your hatred each day to think of something that will actually do some good."

        Please take two minutes to read up on what actually Article 11 is about before spreading misinformation as a consequence of your ignorance. Thanks.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here's hoping that the EU will not be impressed by that.

      exactly my thoughts. Hey Google why don't you piss off back to Trumpland and MAGA instead of slurping our data here in Europe. You might like to pay your proper taxes on your way out.

      Well then? What are you waiting for then? Off you go...

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

      this is more an example of "governmetium at its worst" particularly when you look at the clueless assumptions being made; as an example, how can ANYONE determine copyrighted material over non-copyrighted material? It's as if the lawmakers assume that waving a magic wand or using an electronic crystal ball is enough. As any IT person to "come up with an algorithm that works" and I'm pretty sure that everyone will admit that it's "possible" but highly impractical.

      But like magic encryption that has a magic back door that criminals could NEVER exploit, we NOW have magic algorithms for determining whether content is copyrighted.

      Stupid, stupid, legislators.

      Here's a thought: if you don't want your content indexed, put it into 'robots.txt'. I believe that Google actually HONORS THAT.

    4. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

      Actually Google will still make money, it's the content providers (think local scandal sheet) that loses. Google gets the eyeballs for the search but the links are getting clicked.

      1. overunder

        Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

        Ignoring all this talk... Google's search engine sucks. Not kidding, seriously, Bing and Yahoo are just as good. On a technical, non-mass-advertising-to-sheep level, sadly, duckduckgo is your only option.

        I'm not pimping duckduckgo here either, I wish there were more alternatives. Seriously though, look at all the commercially targeted ads from the major search engines. It's embarrassing, they should be called "shop engines".

        1. Mike Grant

          Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

          Yahoo uses Bing; it doesn't have its own search engine.

      2. catprog

        Re: Ah, capitalism at its best

        Except the problem is the links are not getting clicked

  2. LDS Silver badge
    Megaphone

    I'm perfectly fine with minimal text and no images

    I'll be able to understand which sources interest me and which not. And most images linked to news are useless anyway (just look at ElReg, LOL!)

    1. arthoss

      Re: I'm perfectly fine with minimal text and no images

      Yeah, I still remember el Reg in the 2000’s no pictures whatsoever, at not on the home page. Stock photos are just noise, in the end.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm perfectly fine with minimal text and no images

        "Stock photos are just noise"

        but not Play Mobile pictures.

        1. doublelayer

          Re: I'm perfectly fine with minimal text and no images

          You can use it fine with no images, sure, but minimal text? Usually, the main thing that helps me to decide whether the search worked is to read the summary text where my terms appeared. I can filter whether results are useful or just happen to mention my search term much more effectively with that than I can with the page title. I can also use that to identify pages that I've already effectively read, if the term was quoted in multiple places.

          I also think it should not be possible to charge for linking to a page. That is antithetical to much of the web, and should remain so. I'm directing traffic to someone. If they want to make money on that, they should view me as a positive, whether I'm making money myself or simply thought they were a useful resource. I shouldn't have to pay for the privilege of telling someone they might find something else useful. I don't pay the newspapers if I suggest that someone goes and gets one to read a great article.

          1. LDS Silver badge

            "You can use it fine with no images, sure, but minimal text?"

            The title of an article and the source is enough for me - it will tell me if the article is about what I'm looking for... well, ElReg titles may require some exegesis...

            "I also think it should not be possible to charge for linking to a page."

            As long as they link only, and don't extract enough content to make going to the linked page irrelevant...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "A study commissioned by Spanish publishers in 2015 found that the law cost publishers an estimated €10m (~$10.9m at 2015 exchange rates) annually and led to a loss of visitor traffic."

    So, it is in the site's interest to be scraped for headline and summary, to the tune of a fair amount of money.

    I could imaging Google et al turning around and CHARGING owners for scraping their sites, seeing that a summary, presented on a page of search results, is more or less an advert trying to entice people to click thru onto said site.

    1. ratfox Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Yep, Google knows what's the value of traffic to websites. It's pretty much their entire business model.

      Some publishers might actually prefer a paying model, because then they could bid to be on top of competition. For big publishers, the current all-free model is the worst: It makes it cheap for small indies to get discovered by users, when they wouldn't stand a chance otherwise. That I understand, big publishers actually benefited from Google News being shut down in Spain. The traffic went down for the industry as a whole, but the majority of what was left went to big sites, because they were better known to users, and they had more money to pay for ads.

      Whether that leads to quality news... Maybe? Less clickbait... more BBC... but also more Daily Mail... Hmm.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "That I understand, big publishers actually benefited from Google News being shut down in Spain."

        Really, citation?

        No advertiser is going to think "hey I'll pay site x a load more money for advertising because although they have less viewers at least they get more than a very small site that no-one looks at anymore"

        A news site isn't fighting for ad revenue amongst just the other news sites. They're fighting amongst every other site on the internet. Therefore an advertiser will want to see, number of impressions, quality of readership (/targetting) and number of click-throughs (or other such metrics).

        Less traffic will just hit their advertising revenue. It's as straight forward as that.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What publishers expect:

      Google and others stop linking and users say "oh, I'm not getting my news, I'll subscribe to all these news sites to get my news.

      What happens:

      Users find alternative sites that costs the same as before (i.e. free) and publishers look like shocked pikachu's (not linked in case of charges...)

      Solution?

      Make a small (tiny) charge so that Google continues the status quo, users are happy and publishers get some money. Scrapping a few tens of millions off Google keeps everyone happy for now. Unless other groups are planning the same raid, the free Google money won't last forever.

  4. Hstubbe

    If by "news publishers" they mean "sensationalist fake-news clickbait advertising outlets", then I'd say the net effect to the universe of a 45% decline in traffic is positive.

    1. Flakk Silver badge
  5. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Meh

    I read more news than ever (It's a hobby) solely because it's so readily available and easy. Remove links for the big media companies from Google News and i'll end up reading from smaller sites more or possibly less news. It should seem obvious to the big media pushing this law change that it has failed twice for a reason. Even i will benefit more from reading less news (3 times a day probably is excessive).

  6. Lee D Silver badge

    It's like taxing adverts in a published magazine.

    All you're going to do is make adverts much more expensive to run. The advertisers will give up buying magazine adverts before the magazine itself will go out of business.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      No, it's more like taxing photocopying of magazines and putting those copies next to your ads to lure people there...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Really, how so?

        You know Google news doesn't have any ads directly on it? You knows that they just have the headline and main picture? So how are they copying and recreating the whole article and putting it next to their ads?

        It's more like a newsagent putting a sign outside his shop branded with the various newspapers and their current headlines. There's a reason that the newspapers are the ones who pay for those branded notice boards.

        1. FF22

          Google makes money through News. If they wouldn't make money with it, they wouldn't keep it alive, but would shut it down, like they do with any operation and experiment that doesn't make them money. Simple as that.

  7. stevo42
    FAIL

    Fact checking

    [quote] A potential problem with Article 13 is that limitations on media sharing could affect firms like GitHub and organizations like Wikipedia. [/quote]

    I think you'll find that when this issue was highlighted back in 2015, the EU updated the text of the Copyright Directive the very next month to specifically exclude code-sharing platforms and online encyclopaedias. Yet the internet rumour mill keeps peddling this falsity because people can't be bothered to check the actual source document.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Fact checking

      "Yet the internet rumour mill keeps peddling this falsity because people can't be bothered to check the actual source document."

      Because of successful lobbying and FUD campaigns by those that would be affected, you mean?

  8. Milton Silver badge

    Slow learners

    All of these ideas are tinkering at the periphery, which is why they won't work. The fundamental problem—the absolute core of abuse of power by the internet giants—is the "free" use model, which perpetuates only by monetising the users. Google and Facebook don't charge users, so the users are the product. The abuse of privacy follows inevitably.

    It would be hard to explicitly compel companies to charge for "free" services, but it's easy to do implicitly: simply ban the storage, collection, analysis, synthesis, sale or transfer of personal information which is not strictly required for transactional, operational use. Fines for non-compliance will be existentially threatening. In a heartbeat, Google and Facebook have to revert to the "honest" model: charging for their services. I've listed the many benefits of this before and I'm not going to go through it all again—smart people can explore this idea and come to their own conclusions.

    The inetrnet took a tragically awful wrong turn in permitting the "free use" to arise in the first place. Had we all had to pay for email and search and social messaging etc right from the start, the internet would be a hugely different place, and a much healthier one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Slow learners

      "simply ban the storage, collection, analysis, synthesis, sale or transfer of personal information which is not strictly required for transactional, operational use. "

      "Fines for non-compliance will be existentially threatening."

      Isn't that basically GDPR (which basically 'bans' such activities if the data subject's consent has not been freely given, or something like that)

      And wasn't there a Californian equivalent? What happened to that one? Another inconvenient piece of democratically agreed legislation which Big Money chose to ignore?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Slow learners

      The inetrnet took a tragically awful wrong turn in permitting the "free use" to arise in the first place.

      How would "the internet" allow or disallow this? It's a communications network, nothing more, nothing less. Get a domain, set up a server with the protocol of your choice and link its address to your domain. People will use it or not as it suits them. From my point of view a paid for mail service is worth while, a paid for search engine at present isn't. The economics of free search engines probably depends on the balance between those of us who use ad blockers and those who don't; yes it's still September.

      1. Spamfast

        Re: Slow learners

        Hi Doctor Syntax. I agree that the Internet is just a communications network and anybody can set up a net-based service using any model they choose. (The constant erosion of net neutrality and overreaching government censorship are huge threats to that assertion of course but those are different topics.)

        I think what Milton is talking about is the culture of expecting services on the Internet to be available to the end user without a fee. He does have a point there.

        Of course it's Google, Facebook et al who have promoted this false concept of "free" services while hiding the actual cost to the end user by any means possible.

        But then TANSTAAFL (the second law of thermodynamics) & "if you're not the customer, you're the product" apply on the Internet as they do anywhere else.

        Maybe what's really needed is a better educated populace who understand this and can then actually give informed consent if they are happy to accept the costs of the "free" model? (It might help too with the lack of real democracy despite us in theory being able to vote our politicians in and out every few years.)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Slow learners

          "Maybe what's really needed is a better educated populace who understand this and can then actually give informed consent if they are happy to accept the costs of the "free" model?"

          In theory, yes, but the number of available wage slaves tends towards zero once people really get to know what's going on, so Big Money ain't gonna let a well-informed well-educated populace happen.

          1. Mike Grant

            Re: Slow learners

            Simple demographics is going to prevent a well-informed, well-educated populace happening anyway ;)

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Slow learners

          "I think what Milton is talking about is the culture of expecting services on the Internet to be available to the end user without a fee. He does have a point there."

          Maybe. But simply blaming "the internet" is a massive oversimplification.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Slow learners

      Had we all had to pay for email and search and social messaging etc right from the start, poorer people would have been priced out, which is hardly good for social equality (although it might raise the average educational level shown in online discussions). Although my ideal world would have no advertising at all, I do like the idea that some of our internet services are paid for by companies in proportion to how much more income they're trying to get than their quality merits.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Slow learners

        "Had we all had to pay for email and search and social messaging etc right from the start"

        As regards email we generally do pay for email even if we don't all use the paid-for provision. All ISPs I've used included email in the bundle. People who've been burned by finding it ties them to an ISP they want to leave will then usually turn to Gmail or the relentlessly rebranded Microsoft option.

        On the broader point having to pay for an ISP still excludes the poorer who may then have to make use of some public facility such as a library. For these the free email providers are essential.

        Given email I remain unconvinced that so-called social messaging adds anything useful.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Slow learners

      I have no problem with an advertiser paying for me to access content so banning a free internet is impractical in real life.

      It would just be a tax to use the internet. So to use a search engine I have to have an annual subscription to a search engine - I'd prefer to use it for free. You can do advertising without privacy implications, free newspapers in big cities do it.

      "The inetrnet took a tragically awful wrong turn in permitting the "free use" to arise in the first place."

      What a load ballcocks.

    5. Public Citizen

      Re: Slow learners

      I seem to recall, back in the mists of time when the Internet was young, that my primary email address and the software to make it go were provided as part of the monthly fee paid to my internet service provider.

  9. codejunky Silver badge

    Wow

    I wonder if the EU will go through with this. To be considering it is enough for me to think them stupid but to actually do it will be self crippling. I didnt think the EU could afford to inflict more economic damage on themselves. At least we are heading out.

    1. Roger Kynaston

      Re: Wow

      Downvoted for the Brexit reference. We are all fed up with it.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Wow

        @Roger Kynaston

        "Downvoted for the Brexit reference. We are all fed up with it."

        Understandable but if the EU decides to screw over businesses within the EU to whatever expensive value it works out at this time surely we would want to be outside of that? You might be fed up with it but its highly relevant if not more than the stories of TLD and GDPR.

        1. Roger Kynaston
          Pint

          Re: Wow

          I agree. I only downvoted for the Brexit bit specifically. :-)

          I'll keep my views on that "debate" off this forum.

          Have an electronic Belgian beer as I shall be in Bruges in a couple of weeks.

    2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Wow

      From the FA:

      "One is Article 11, popularly referred to as the "link tax," which would allow online publishers to decide who can link to their news stories and to demand a fee for the privilege. "

      It doesn't say anything about being compulsory. If publishers don't want to be indexed that's up to them.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Wow

        @Adrian 4

        As someone has already commented thats robots.txt. They fill it in there and google will stop indexing their content. Solved.

        1. DCFusor Silver badge

          Re: Wow

          Expecting a journalist to "learn to code" - even something as simple as a text file like robots.txt, is now hate speech among the snowflakes in the US....

          Heck, expecting them to know there is such a thing is problematic, their site was probably not written by a pro in the first place, just some beginner with a big framework that wastes resources hosted in some cloud somewhere.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Wow

            I doubt it's a matter of journalists learning to "code". More a matter of management talking to their technical staff who know the answer already. But the technical staff are minions and this is Policy and even Politics which is way above their pay grade.

  10. Neal McQ

    Worth adding that Amazon becoming a third advertiser is a good thing - more competition is a win. right now, with Facebook and Google owning the market, there's on incentive/pressure on them. A third player is only a good thing.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Amazon becoming a third advertiser is a good thing"

      Because the search engine on their selling site is so good at not presenting irrelevant results.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        the difference between Amazon and 'Google + Facebook' is that neither Google NOR Facebook have a SHOPPING CART for a zillion sundry items...

        To me this suggests that Amazon's business model is _COMPLETELY_ different than either Google or Facebook. Whatever that implies, right? (THAT discussion could easily go off into the weeds)

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          What continually amazes me about Amazon is that how they repeatedly make themselves appear inept at the operation of that shopping cart.

          Only this week SWMBO required seven pens which were ordered as one item in the cart, qty = 7. Amazingly seven separate emails were sent over the space of about an hour reflecting that each pen was separately packed, posted and delivered.

          I can't imagine any business I've worked with getting away with that and the many other logistical faux pas I've seen from Amazon without being bankrupted. It seems quite likely that when they say they don't make a profit it's no more than the simple truth.

  11. arthoss

    A new epoch upon us

    It’s coming. Where we’ll have to make a decision about what website we really want to read and sponsor and not just use the links from a search engine. With all the possibilities for fake anything these days, only official stuff and favourite website will come to count. And then you can think about donating some money to them.

    Google and co will amass otherwise too much power with regards to our free will (you don’t have it if choice is limited).

  12. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "the fundamental problem facing publishers – the fact that Facebook and Google dominate the online ad business and online content discovery channels."

    The publishers have only themselves to blame.

    In print they've sold advertising space and put it on the pages themselves. Online they chose to hand it over to Google.

    For search - and this applies to far too many vendors' sites as well as publishers - on-site search is generally so poor that all too often it's easier to go to an external search engine than try to find what you're looking for on the site itself. This includes at least some of the largest tech vendors who really should know better.

  13. MJI Silver badge

    Google news aggregation

    Is one of the best things they do.

    Great for finding multiple view points about recent events.

    Also shows enough to see if it is worthwhile visiting.

    I suppose it is because I can avoid the rabid view points* and look for links to well written ones.

    * Notably Boris worshippers, and OTT Corbyn's bottom is a lighting fixture.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Google news aggregation

      No - Google shows you what it thinks will benefit their advertising revenue - OK so this is politically neutral but you're only seeing what they want you to see.

      1. Nick Kew Silver badge

        Re: Google news aggregation

        If that nonsense ever became true, google would die rapidly as people stopped using it.

        Even half true. Or 5% true.

        Except in the sense that Google know very well that the reason they have advertising revenue in the first place is because their search engine works for users, so we choose to use it. From memory, google's search results were no better than altavista, but I switched to google simply because they didn't burden me with deezyner pages that took forever to load.

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Google news aggregation

        Actually it is pretty good, skip past the sillier tabloids, then load some pages, hit a paywall occasionally.

        I find often though that you do need to read a lot to get the full amount of information.

        You even find some sites which appear to be poor actually have some good writers. Also the other way round.

        Without it I would probably be relying on BBC only.

  14. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    Contentious but ....

    Google is like the CEO's of those big charities - everyone should give them money but they won't open their own wallets. Because it's for the good of everyone, they bring joy and benefits to the world etc. Bah humbug!

    The simple solution is Google News pays for it's contents (like other aggregators) and Google Search Engine carries on as before.

    1. DaLo

      Re: Contentious but ....

      "The simple solution is Google News pays for it's contents (like other aggregators) "

      Can you point to these other aggregators that pay to link through to other sites (with no more than a headline and an image)?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Contentious but ....

      re: pays for it's contents (like other aggregators)

      Fake news.

  15. Merefield

    But wait!

    Article 11: The link 'previews' that are usually generated on the 'aggregators' are set by the publisher in their web page meta tags.

    So I believe use of this content constitutes 'fair use' with an implied licence - after all Facebook iirc actually invented the open graph tag so if someone is prepared to fill it in that's implying they want facebook to consume and use that data ...

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: But wait!

      Article 11: The link 'previews' that are usually generated on the 'aggregators' are set by the publisher in their web page meta tags.

      Where does that come from?

      I included that feature in the original WebÞing back in 1995. A couple of years later, spam started to become a problem, and it became clear that it was only fit for a closed system whose participants shared a reasonable level of mutual trust. A general-purpose search engine like google would just be handing itself to spammers if it used those.

  16. Bugsy11

    E.U's Qwant search engine needs to Embrace, & Extend before trying to Extinguish

    The only way to really break up an entrenched incumbent like Google is not to try and replace it right away but to first embrace, extend, and only then slowly try and extinguish it. Essentially two relatively simple steps may be all that is required to accomplish this.

    1) On the desktop, all search queries in browsers should be required to present double framed results page with left frame for Google, and right frame for say E.U.’s own Qwant engine. If users don’t see what they like in the left frame, they click on an answer in the right frame.

    2) On smartphones require search results to be swipable so that user can swipe the Google results page if they don’t see what they want to have the same query run thru Qwant.

    This allows enough traffic to be built up through Qwant to raise money thru ad revenues, perhaps by using differential privacy to protect user identity as Apple does. Qwant might then have a chance to improve and catch up to Google in search

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: E.U's Qwant search engine needs to Embrace, & Extend before trying to Extinguish

      Google is setting itself up to be taken over by a better search engine before long. For instance:

      1. Often, words in long search criteria are just ignored by default, so the results are not relevant. You go to a match page and find there is no mention of the criteria word you just requested!

      2. Country specific google domains no longer work, so searching google.co.jp (ie as if you were in Japan) results in identical hits to google.co.uk (assuming you're UK based).

      3. As for the censored results, don't get me started...

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: E.U's Qwant search engine needs to Embrace, & Extend before trying to Extinguish

        I was trying to find some details on a car model and it listed pages for lots of other cars with the model crossed out.

        This is how to kill a search engine

  17. hoola

    Google, Advertising & Paid Results

    The entire search tool is becoming more and more useless. Paid or "sponsored" results that fill the top half of the results often with no genuine link to the site you actually want. This is particularly true of Government agencies where parasitic click-bait companies with nothing to offer are the first in the and the actual link you want, direct to the real website is buried.

    Add to that the shop website that leave old items on that mean they get the click through because the item you want it cheap, it is jus the wrong item and out of stock, never to be in stock because it is discontinued.

    Amazon are total and utter tossers on this because an entire page of links will appear all to Amazon for items that are not even sold or are not available. Of course what a significant proportion of shoppers then do is search on Amazon to find what they want having been sucked into the website by essentially fraudulent means.

    If a high street shop did this Trading Standards would be down on them like a ton of bricks, but this it the Internet and you can do anything.

    The links of Google, Amazon and all the other US tech outfits have long gone past the point where they are a benefit to society. The trouble is that they are so bid now that they are almost immune from regulation. The US is never going to touch them due to the amount of money in lobbying, The EU just might get somewhere but I cannot see it having a huge impact as the recipients of the legislation will just ignore it or suck the fines up as a business cost. They are simply too big and have been allowed to get that way be a benign regulatory environment that has been based on market forces. Once the genie is out it is very difficult to put it back.

    I suppose at some point it might all implode on itself but by then the likelihood is that it will be due to some international cock-up involving idiotic political leaders, oil, minerals and weapons as America attempts to assert itself and show the world how great they are. The out come will be that we are back in the stone age if we are lucky.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google, Advertising & Paid Results

      "I suppose at some point it might all implode on itself"

      Don't worry, it'll be game over by the end of the century. If the US hasn't loosed it nukes on someone by then, famine and massive social upheaval will make today's lifestyles unrecognisable...

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