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A Defensive Google Consolidates In Europe

Facing legal challenges and calls for breakup, Google combines its myriad divisions in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

A Defensive Google Consolidates In Europe
[Photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images]

As European authorities continue to hound Google with allegations of privacy and antitrust violations, the search giant is combining its departments into one mega-regional body responsible for its activity in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Matt Brittin, who formerly headed up one half of Google’s operations in Europe, will lead the company’s newly unified efforts there, the Financial Times reports.

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In part an answer to pressure from European officials, the move also provides a united front for engaging with foreign legal bodies. The search giant also appears to be making efforts of appeasement, with offers to train a million Europeans in digital skills and invest a further $28 million for skills training there.

In a statement, Brittin expressed Google’s support for a single digital market in Europe, eliminating the need for businesses to to jump through regulatory hoops for multiple countries when trying to expand or hire across borders. “For Europe to reach its full potential, we need to clear the way for companies online. We need a single market in the digital world that reflects the single market we enjoy in the physical world already,” he said.

Google’s closing ranks isn’t a surprise given the EU’s criticism of the search giant as a de facto spearhead for U.S. control of the European technology market, according to The Guardian. Many of the EU’s legal challenges come at the behest of European companies who can’t seem to survive Google’s horizontal domination of search, browser, mobile, and other services. It’s probably not helping Google that President Obama was dismissive of European concerns in a recent interview with Re/code, implying an American tech advantage overseas was simply a result of beating out European competitors in the free market.

The EU has maintained that Google’s search indexing impeded individuals’ “right to be forgotten.” Last November it started playing hardball with calls to break up Google’s services. Now Russia’s predominant search company Yandex is criticizing Google for stacking Android smartphones with Google apps.

It remains to be seen whether split lawsuits can edge out a united Google, or if this is just Google’s world and we’re living in it.

[via The Guardian]

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