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本文摘要:Have you heard the term Gafa yet? It hasn’t caught on here in the United States — and I’m guessing it won’t — but in France, it has become so common that the newspapers hardly need to spell out its meaning. Everyone there already knows what Gafa stands for: Google-Apple-Facebook-Amazon.你听闻过Gafa这个词吗?

Have you heard the term Gafa yet? It hasn’t caught on here in the United States — and I’m guessing it won’t — but in France, it has become so common that the newspapers hardly need to spell out its meaning. Everyone there already knows what Gafa stands for: Google-Apple-Facebook-Amazon.你听闻过Gafa这个词吗?它还没在美国这边流行起来——我猜中它会风行——但在法国,这个词早已显得如此少见,实在太报纸完全不必须阐述它的含义,每个人都告诉Gafa代表什么:谷歌-苹果-Facebook-亚马逊。In America, we tend to think of these companies as four distinct entities that compete fiercely with each other. But, in Europe, which lacks a single Internet company of comparable size and stature, they “encapsulate America’s evil Internet empire,” as Gideon Rachman put it in The Financial Times on Monday. Nine out of 10 Internet searches in Europe use Google — a more commanding percentage than in the United States — to cite but one example of their utter dominance in the countries that make up the European Union.在美国,我们一般来说指出这些公司是四个有所不同的实体,相互之间竞争白热化。但是在欧洲,没规模和地位可以与它们相提并论的互联网公司,所以就像《金融时报》吉迪恩·拉赫曼(Gideon Rachman)本周一所说的,它们“代表了恶魔的美国互联网帝国”。欧洲每10个互联网搜寻中就有九个用于了谷歌,这个比例比美国本土还更加颇,而这只是Gafa在欧盟成员国中占有意味著主导地位的一个例子而已。

Not surprisingly, this dominance breeds worry in Europe, however fairly it was achieved. The French fear (as the French always do) the imposition of American culture. The Germans fear the rise of an industry more efficient — and more profitable — than their own. Industry leaders, especially in publishing, telecommunications and even autos fear that the American Internet companies will disrupt their businesses and siphon away their profits. Europeans worry about the use of their private data by American companies, a worry that was only exacerbated by the Edward Snowden spying revelations. There is a palpable sense among many politicians, regulators and businesspeople in Europe that the Continent needs to develop its own Internet platforms — or, at the least, clip the wings of the big American Internet companies while there’s still time.从不怪异,无论这种获得主导地位的过程有多么公平,它都引发了欧洲人的担忧。法国(一如既往地)担忧美国文化的侵略。德国人担忧一个比本国产业更为高效、利润更高的产业的兴起。

行业领导者,尤其是出版发行、电信,甚至汽车行业的领导者,担忧美国的互联网公司不会政治宣传他们的业务,吸出他们的利润。欧洲人担忧美国公司用于自己的私人数据,而爱德华·斯诺登(Edward Snowden)对监听活动的曝光堪称激化了这种忧虑。欧洲大陆有很多政界、商界人士和监管者都实在有适当研发自己的互联网平台,或者,最少趁现在还有时间,要捆住美国大型互联网公司的手脚。

I bring this up in the wake of the decision by Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s relatively new (she took office in November) commissioner in charge of competition policy, to bring antitrust charges against Google, the culmination of a five-year investigation. The case revolves around whether Google took advantage of its dominance in search to favor its own comparison-shopping service over those of its rivals. Vestager also opened an inquiry into Google’s Android mobile operating system — and said the European Union would investigate other potential violations if need be.我驳回这些,是因为欧盟新一任(她去年11月离任)的竞争事务专员玛格丽特·韦斯塔格尔(Margrethe Vestager)在五年的调查之后对谷歌驳回了反垄断诉讼。该案的核心在于,谷歌否利用其在搜寻领域的霸主地位,让自身的较为购物服务获益,令其竞争对手正处于有利境地。韦斯塔格尔还启动了一个针对谷歌Android移动操作系统的调查,并回应如有必须,欧盟还将调查其他潜在的违规行为。

Not long after announcing the charges, Vestager made a speech in Washington. “We have no grudge; we have no fight with Google,” she said. “In all our cases, we are indifferent to the nationality of the companies involved. Our responsibility is to make sure that any company with operations in the territory of the E.U. complies with our treaty rules.”宣告了针对谷歌的指控后旋即,韦斯塔格尔在华盛顿公开发表讲话。“我们不是妒忌;我们与谷歌之间没宿怨,”她说道。“在所有的案子中,我们都不关心所牵涉到的公司的国籍。

我们的责任是保证在欧盟境内运营的所有公司都遵从了我们的规则。”Well, maybe. But it is also true that, to an unusual degree, this investigation, especially in its latter stages, has been driven by politics. The political rhetoric around Google in Europe has been so heated that had Vestager decided not to bring a case, her political standing might have been weakened, “probably compromising her ability to pursue effectively other high-profile antitrust cases,” wrote Carlos Kirjner, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein Co.或许吧。

这次调查,特别是在后期,其背后的政治推动力早已抵达了一种不奇怪的程度,这也是事实。欧洲各地关于谷歌的政治言论极为反感,以至于如果韦斯塔格尔不驳回诉讼,她的政治地位就有可能遭巩固。“可能会严重威胁她调查其他高调反垄断案件的能力,”桑福德·伯恩斯坦公司(Sanford C. Bernstein)分析师卡洛斯·基里纳尔(Carlos Kirjner)说道。

Consider, for instance, what happened last year when Google was close to settling the case with Vestager’s predecessor, Joaquín Almunia. Google had agreed to make changes that it found cumbersome and intrusive, but it wanted to get the case behind it and move on. Instead, European politicians, especially in France and Germany, and prodded by Google’s competitors, complained that Almunía was being too accommodating to the company. “The offers by Google aren’t worthless, but they’re not nearly enough,” one such politician, Günther Oettinger of Germany, told The Wall Street Journal.比如,看看去年谷歌将要与韦斯塔格尔的前任华金·阿尔穆尼亚(Joaquín Almunia)就这个案子达成协议妥协的时候,再次发生了什么事吧。谷歌当时早已表示同意展开一些改动,虽然它实在这些改动既繁复,又具备侵入性,但它期望真相大白这个案子,把精力放到别的事上。

结果欧洲的政界人士,特别是在是法国和德国的,在谷歌的竞争对手的唆使下,责怪阿尔穆尼亚过于纵容谷歌了。“谷歌的建议并非一无是处,但这还远远不够,”来自德国的政界人士金特·厄廷格(Günther Oettinger)对《华尔街日报》说道。At the time, Oettinger was serving as the European Union’s energy commissioner, making him one of the 28 commissioners who would have to approve any settlement. By September, he had been nominated for a new job: commissioner for digital economy and society. At a hearing before a European Parliament committee, he took credit for blowing up the Google settlement.当时厄廷格是欧盟能源专员,任何解决办法都必需获得他和其他27名专员的批准后。到了9月,他被奖提名兼任欧盟数字经济与社会专员。

在欧洲议会委员会的一个听证会上,他因制止了谷歌的妥协而获得赞赏。As the digital commissioner, Oettinger has continued to advocate for what has become the German position on Google — namely that Google’s power must be reined in. In a speech two weeks ago, he essentially said that Europe should begin regulating Internet platforms in such a way as to allow homegrown companies to overtake the American Internet giants. And on Thursday, a document leaked from his office to The Wall Street Journal that outlined just such a plan, claiming that if nothing was done, the entire economy of Europe was “at risk” because of its dependency on American Internet companies. There have even been calls in Europe to break up Google.作为数字经济专员,厄廷格再三提倡德国对谷歌的立场——谷歌的权力必需受到限制。在两周前的一个演说中,他传达了这样的意思:从现在开始,欧洲调整互联网平台的方式,应当有助欧洲本土企业领先于美国的互联网巨头。上周四,他办公室的一份文件被《华尔街日报》曝光,文件中阐述的计划声称,如果不采取行动,整个欧洲经济就不会因为对美国互联网公司的倚赖而面对“风险”。

欧洲甚至还有人敦促要拆分谷歌。Europe has every right to regulate any company and any sector it wants. And it can bring antitrust charges as it sees fit. But given the rhetoric surrounding Google and the other American Internet giants, suspicion of Europe’s real motives is justified.欧洲几乎有权来监管他们想要监管的任何公司、任何部门。

只要他们指出适合,也可以驳回任何反垄断指控。但考虑到环绕谷歌和其他美国互联网巨头的论调,欧洲的现实动机还是有一点猜测的。From here, the European charges against Google look a lot like protectionism.从这个角度而言,欧洲对谷歌的指控看上去很看起来保护主义行径。