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Europe’s beef with GAFA

歐洲不滿美國四大科技巨頭

Big tech faces competition and privacyconcerns in Brussels

科技巨頭在歐盟遭遇競爭與隱私問題

And the sector may be the better for it

互聯網行業反而可能變得更好



Ms Vestager is hardly at the vanguard of amovement: even in its domestic French market, Qwant has less than 1% marketshare. Nor, at first, might her focus on privacy seem linked to hertrustbusting brief. But, as she has explained, popular services like Facebookuse their customers as part of the “production machinery”. You may not pay incash to like a friend’s pictures, or every time you ask Alexa what a “cup” ofbutter is in grams—but you might as well do, given how much personal data youhave to fork over. Rather melodramatically, Ms Vestager says what seem to befree services are ones for which you “pay with your life”.

維斯塔格女士不太可能引領一場運動:即便在法國本土市場,Qwant的市場份額也不足1%。乍看起來,她對隱私的關注也不可能與反壟斷職責有什么聯系。但是正如她所言,“臉書”(Facebook)等熱門服務平臺將用戶當作部分“生產設備”。考慮到用戶不得不交出大量的個人數據,倒不如付費為朋友的照片點贊,或每次向智能語音助手Alexa求助:請問一“杯”黃油是多少克?聳人聽聞的是,維斯塔格女士說人們是在“用生命購買”貌似免費的服務。

Those appointed, by governments orthemselves, to worry about competition have a strong interest in big tech firmssuch as Google and its parent Alphabet, Apple, Amazon and Facebook. How couldthey not, given how quickly those firms have come to dominate the businesslandscape. On both sides of the Atlantic, the reputation that big-techcompanies other than Apple have for making free with people’s data has led torules being tightened, and there is talk of tightening them more. There are otherconcerns, too. Europeans have a fairly strong feeling that the firms do not payenough tax. Everywhere there are worries about the content which theyspread—such as, for a while, video of the massacre in Christchurch—and thatwhich they are thought to suppress.

那些被政府指派或自發擔憂競爭的人對大型科技公司有著濃厚興趣,例如:谷歌及其母公司Alphabet、蘋果、亞馬遜、臉書。這些公司主導商業格局如此之快,他們怎能不擔心。在美國和歐洲,除了蘋果公司,大型科技公司擅自使用個人數據的惡名導致法規收緊,據說還要進一步收緊。另外也存在其他問題,歐洲人強烈認為這些企業沒有繳納足夠的稅。它們傳播的內容在全球引發了普遍擔憂,例如網上瘋傳一時的克萊斯特徹奇市(Christchurch)大屠殺視頻,令人擔憂的還有據認為被它們封殺的內容。

Tech groups have hordes of lobbyistsexperienced in weathering these various issues. Occasional losses—such as the1.5bn ($1.7bn) that Google was fined on March 20th for abusing its clout inthe online-advertising market—can to some extent just be treated as a cost ofdoing business. What they are not so well prepared for is the crossing of someof these streams of complaint. European regulators are bringing togetherconcerns about privacy and rules about competition to create constraints thatcould up-end the way companies do business online.

科技公司擁有大規模的游說團隊,具備處理各種問題的豐富經驗。在某種程度上,偶爾的損失僅僅被視為商業成本,例如3月20日,谷歌因濫用其在網絡廣告市場的影響力被罰款15億歐元(17億美元)。對于其中的一些不滿,它們沒有十足的把握渡過難關。歐洲監管機構正在將隱私問題與反壟斷法相結合來制定約束措施,這可能顛覆科技公司的網絡運營模式。

Common market power

公共市場權力

Campaigners have long lamented that,although the users of online platforms tell pollsters that they care aboutprivacy, they do not act as if they do. If privacy becomes tied to antitrustconcerns, though, users do not need to care. They merely need to be contentthat regulators armed with big sticks—European regulators are empowered to levyfines on companies operating in Europe that are a significant fraction of theirglobal revenue—should care on their behalf. Ms Vestager and her colleagues seemhappy to do the honours.

活動人士一直痛心疾首的是,盡管網絡平臺用戶在民意測驗中聲稱擔心隱私,但行為上不是這樣。但如果隱私與反壟斷相結合,用戶就可高枕無憂了。他們只需滿足于手持大棒的監管機構代表他們去關注隱私問題:歐洲監管機構有權對在歐洲經營的企業罰款,這些公司的全球收入有很大一部分來自歐洲市場。維斯塔格女士及其同事似乎很樂意為用戶代勞。



The measure of market power usually used tojustify action on competition grounds is, roughly speaking, that a company isable to raise prices without losing customers. Such an ability suggests thatthe level of competition in the market needs at least looking into, and perhapsredressing. Facebook, being free to its public users (though not to theadvertisers who buy the users’ attention), cannot have its market poweranalysed in this way. But Mr Mundt says that the company’s ability to encroachever more on its users’ privacy without seeing them leave—for example, bystarting to track them while they browse sites not connected to Facebook—isalso a measure of market power.

大體而言,市場權力的衡量標準是企業能夠在不流失客戶的前提下抬高價格,該標準通常被用作不正當競爭訴訟的法律依據。這種能力表明,市場競爭程度需要受到調查,并可能需要糾正。“臉書”無法以這種方式獲取市場權力,因為它為公眾用戶提供免費服務(不包括購買用戶注意力的廣告商)。但蒙特先生指出,“臉書”能在不流失用戶的前提下不斷侵犯用戶的隱私,這也是市場權力的一種衡量標準,例如:用戶瀏覽與“臉書”無關的網站時會被“臉書”跟蹤。

This analysis is leading to strict newrules on the amount of data Facebook can collect from German users. It can nolonger mesh together the data it gathers from its various services, includingWhatsApp and Instagram, as it has said it wants to do. There are alsorestrictions on how much it can track its users when they browse the internetbeyond Facebook. Mr Mundt compares these new constraints on the flow ofinformation inside the company to Facebook being “internally broken up”.

這一分析結果正在促使德國制定新的嚴格法規,限制“臉書”搜集德國用戶的數據量。“臉書”無法再如愿以償地整合從各個服務平臺搜集來的數據,包括WhatsApp和Instagram。“當用戶瀏覽與“臉書”無關的網站時,跟蹤用戶的程度也會受到限制。蒙特先生認為,這些限制公司內部信息流的新舉措相當于“從內部瓦解”臉書。

The logical step beyond limiting theaccrual of data is demanding their disbursement. If tech companies are dominantby virtue of their data troves, competition authorities working with privacyregulators may feel justified in demanding they share those data, either withthe people who generate them or with other companies in the market. That couldwhittle away a big chunk of what makes big tech so valuable, both becauseEurope is a large market, and because regulators elsewhere may see Europe’sactions as a model to copy. It could also open up new paths to innovation.

除了限制搜集數據,另一個合理的舉措是要求它們有所付出。如果科技公司依靠寶貴的數據獲得支配地位,那么與隱私監管機構合作的反壟斷機構可能理所當然地要求它們與數據貢獻者或同行共享這些數據。這可能使支撐科技巨頭高市值的數據大量減少,不僅因為歐洲是一個龐大的市場,而且其他國家的監管機構可能效仿歐洲的做法。這也可能為創新開辟新的道路。

Europe is not an impressive performer whenit comes to creating tech behemoths. It is as well represented among big globaltech companies as companies other than Google are in search-engine statistics:there is just one (sap, a business software company) in the top 20. Look at thetop 200 internet companies and things are, if anything, a touch worse; justeight. But in regulatory heft the eu punches far above its members’ businessweight.

歐洲在培養科技巨頭方面表現平平。這一點從全球大型科技公司中可見一斑,數據顯示在排名前20位的搜索引擎公司中(谷歌除外),僅有一家來自歐洲(名為sap的商業軟件公司)。在排名前200位的互聯網公司中,情況甚至可能更加糟糕,只有8家來自歐洲。但是,歐盟的監管力度遠遠超過成員國的商業影響力。

There are various ways of explaining this.One is that Europe’s keenness to regulate stops its tech firms from growing in theway that hands-off America encourages. Another is that the rigours of itszealous regulation are experienced, in the main, only by foreigners—which makesthem more palatable to, or even popular with, politicians and the public.“Would Brussels be so tough on big tech companies if they were French orGerman?” asks one American executive, rhetorically.

這種局面是多方面原因造成的。首先,歐洲的積極監管使科技公司無法以無為而治的美國所鼓勵的方式去發展。其次,基本上只有外企才會遭遇積極監管的惡劣環境,這使它們更被政客和民眾接受甚至喜愛。一名美國企業主管反問:“如果是法國或德國的大型科技公司,歐盟會這么嚴厲”?

There is also the consideration that thecompanies potentially “disrupted” by internet innovators include Europeancarmakers, telecoms companies and media groups, about whom European politicianscare a lot. New copyright regulations being voted on by the European Parliamentnext week have been widely criticised for putting the interests of copyrightholders, which largely means media companies, far ahead of the interests ofonline companies and, indeed, the free expression of users.

另一個原因是歐洲政客關懷備至的企業可能遭受互聯網創新企業的“破壞”,諸如汽車制造商、電信公司、傳媒集團。歐洲議會將于下周對新的版權條例進行表決,飽受詬病的是新條例將版權公司的利益凌駕于網絡公司甚至用戶言論自由的利益之上。

Regardless of motive, though, this is nowthe way of the world. A look at the annual reports of big tech companiesclearly shows that they have a lot of European issues to face, including taxes(see chart 1). And this means that differences between the ways in whichEuropeans and Americans think about competition and privacy matter a lot.

無論出于何種動機,目前歐洲就是如此。大型科技公司的年報明確顯示,它們在歐洲市場面臨諸多問題,包括納稅。這意味著歐洲人和美國人對待競爭和隱私的思維差異非常重要。

Brussels rules
Take competition first. Much of theunderlying law governing cartels, mergers and competition is quite similar onboth sides of the Atlantic. But the continents’ approaches to handling bigcompanies are leagues apart.

歐盟法規
首先以競爭為例,美國和歐洲在有關卡特爾、并購、競爭的基本法方面大部分十分相似,但對待大型企業的方式大相徑庭。

In recent decades, American antitrustpolicy has been dominated by free-marketeers of the so-called Chicago School,deeply sceptical of the government’s role in any but the most egregious cases.Dominant firms are frequently left unmolested in the belief they will soon losetheir perch anyway: remember MySpace? The lure of fat profits is, after all,what motivates firms to innovate in the first place. While there is healthyacademic debate over whether online businesses naturally, or even inevitably,have a tendency towards monopoly, it has yet to have much effect on regulation.American courts view dominant firms as a problem only if their position doesclear harm to consumers.

近幾十年來,美國的反壟斷政策被那些主張自由貿易的芝加哥學派所主導,他們對政府在任何情況下發揮的作用深感懷疑,最糟糕的情況除外。占主導地位的企業通常免受干預,因為他們認為這些企業過不了多久就會地位不保:還記得MySpace(聚友)公司嗎?畢竟豐厚的利潤激勵著企業爭先創新。盡管學術界對于網絡公司是否天生乃至必然地趨向于壟斷存在合理爭議,但尚未對監管形成重大影響。只有當占主導地位的企業明顯損害消費者的利益時,美國法院才認為這是個問題。

By contrast, “Europe is philosophicallymore sceptical of firms that have market power,” says Cristina Caffarra atCharles River Associates, an economics consultancy. Its regulators want to seecompetitors that have been less successful continue to exist, and even thrive.Competition is seen as valuable in and of itself, to ensure innovation happensbeyond one firm that has conquered the market.

相反,“冷靜的歐洲對擁有市場權力的企業感到懷疑”,來自經濟咨詢公司Charles River Associates(查爾斯里弗聯合公司)的克里斯蒂娜·卡法拉說道。歐洲監管機構希望不太成功的競爭對手繼續生存乃至發達起來。歐洲認為競爭本身是有益的,它能確保創新不局限于單獨一家壟斷企業。



There is not just more interest inregulating big tech in Europe; there is also more power to do so. WilliamKovacic, a former boss of the Federal Trade Commission in America, saidrecently that Brussels is “the capital of the world” for antitrust, leaving itsAmerican counterparts “in the shade”. American antitrust typically involvesprosecuting the case in front of a judge. The European Commission can decideand impose fines by itself, without the approval of national governments,though the decisions are subject to appeal in the courts. And whereas, inAmerica, only federal agencies can apply federal law, European antitrust lawcan be applied both by national authorities and the commission.

歐洲不僅有更大的興趣,也有更多的權力監管科技巨頭。美國聯邦貿易委員會前主席威廉·科瓦契奇最近表示,布魯塞爾是反壟斷的“世界之都”,這使美國同行顯得相形見絀。美國反壟斷通常是在法官面前提起公訴,歐盟委員會未經國民政府批準即可自行裁決和處以罰款,但被告可通過法院對判決提出上訴。美國聯邦法只能由聯邦機構實施,而歐洲反壟斷法可由各國政府和歐盟委員會實施。

Every major tech group has had run-ins withEuropean antitrust rules. Since 2017, Google has been sanctioned three times,running up 8.2bn in fines for promoting its own shopping-comparison service insearch results and edging out rivals with its Android phone software, as wellas for abusing its strength in advertising. It is appealing the decisions. In2017 Facebook was fined 110m for misinforming the eu about its plans forintegrating WhatsApp with its flagship social network.

所有的科技巨頭都觸犯過歐洲的反壟斷法。谷歌自2017年以來被制裁過三次,罰款金額高達82億歐元,原因是在搜索結果中推廣自家的貨比三家服務,利用自家的安卓手機軟件排擠競爭對手,以及濫用自身的廣告影響力,谷歌正在對這些判決提出上訴。2017年,臉書被罰1.1億美元,原因是在WhatsApp與臉書社交網絡的合并計劃方面向歐盟提供虛假信息。

In the same year Amazon was rebuked for theway it sold e-books, agreeing to change its practices. It is now under anearly-stage investigation both in Germany and Europe-wide for the way it usessales data from its “Marketplace” platform to compete with the independentretailers who sell through it. On March 13th Spotify, a Swedish music-streamingservice, demanded that the commission step in to stop Apple levying hefty feesfrom those who sell services through its App Store.

同一年,亞馬遜因電子書的售賣方式而受到批評,并同意做出改變。德國乃至全歐洲正在對亞馬遜進行初步調查,原因是它利用自家“市場”平臺的銷售數據與該平臺上的獨立經銷商展開競爭。3月13日,瑞典流媒體音樂服務平臺Spotify要求歐盟委員會阻止蘋果公司向那些通過蘋果應用商店出售服務的商家收取高昂費用。

Then there is privacy. In the past centuryalmost all European countries have experienced dictatorship, either home-grownor imposed through occupation, which has raised sensitivities. “Privacy is afundamental right at eu level, in a way that it is not in America,” says AndreaRenda of the Centre for European Policy Studies, a think-tank. That right isenshrined in the eu Charter of Fundamental Rights in the same way that freespeech is protected by America’s constitution. Polls show Europeans, andparticularly Germans, to be more concerned about the use of their personal databy private companies than Americans are.

再一個是隱私問題。過去一百年來,幾乎所有的歐洲國家都遭受過獨裁統治,要么來自本土,要么外來勢力通過占領而強制實行,這都提高了歐洲人對隱私的敏感性。“隱私是歐盟的基本權利,美國從某種程度上來說不是這樣”,歐洲政策研究中心(Centre for European Policy Studies)智囊機構的安德里亞·倫達說道。隱私權已被載入歐盟基本權利憲章,正如言論自由受到美國憲法的保護。民調顯示,歐洲人比美國人更在意個人信息被私企所利用,尤其是德國人。

When American tech companies firstencountered these concerns they were relatively trifling. In 2010 Germanauthorities demanded Google blur the homes of anyone who objected to appearingin its Street View service. (Rural Germany remains one of the last places wherewell-off people live beyond the service’s coverage.) Four years later, aneu-wide “right to be forgotten” provided some circumstances in which citizenscould expunge stories about them from search results.

美國科技公司最初面臨歐洲的隱私問題時,相對而言沒當回事。2010年,德國當局要求谷歌公司模糊處理住戶反對出現在街景服務中的住宅(德國鄉村至今仍是少數超出服務范圍的富人居住區之一)。四年后,歐盟“被遺忘權”規定,公民在某些情況下有權從搜索結果中刪除個人信息。

The General Data Protection Regulation(gdpr), which came into force last May, raised the issue to a new level. Beyondharmonising data protection across Europe, it also established a principle thatindividuals should be able to choose how the information about them is used.This is an issue not just for the companies which currently dominate the onlineworld—the provisions of the gdpr were central to the German ruling onFacebook—but also for that world’s basic business model.

去年5月實施的《通用數據保護條例》將該問題推向了新高度。該條例不僅協調全歐洲的數據保護,還確立了一個原則,即個人信息的使用方式應由其本人來決定。這個問題不僅涉及到目前在網絡世界占支配地位的企業(在德國對臉書公司的裁決中,《通用數據保護條例》起到了關鍵作用),也涉及到網絡世界的基本商業模式。

The data about their users collected byapps and browsers is the bedrock of online advertising—a business which in 2018was worth $108bn in America according to eMarketer, a consultancy. The mostvaluable part of the industry works by selling the user’s attention to thehighest bidder, a simple-sounding proposition which requires a labyrinthine andpotentially leaky “adtech” infrastructure.

應用程序和瀏覽器搜集的用戶數據是網絡廣告的基石,根據咨詢公司eMarketer的數據,2018年美國網絡廣告產業價值1080億美元。該產業最有價值的地方是將用戶的注意力賣給出價最高者,這看似簡單,實則需要錯綜復雜和可能存在漏洞的“廣告技術”基礎架構。

Enterprises called “supply-side platforms”use data from apps and from cookies in browsers to pass a profile of everyperson who visits an advertising-supported page to an advertising exchange.There the rights to show adverts are auctioned off user by user. Bidders usethe data from the supply-side, along with further data procured from brokers,to decide how likely the user is to act on their ad, and thus how much it isworth to show it to him. The highest bidder gets to put its ad on the user’sscreen (see chart 2). Meanwhile, data associated with the transaction are usedto update the brokers’ records.

被稱為“供給側平臺”的企業利用應用程序和網絡追蹤器(cookies)搜集的數據,將訪問廣告贊助頁的所有用戶的資料提供給廣告交易中心。廣告顯示權在這里以用戶為單位被逐一拍賣。競價者利用供給側和代理商提供的數據,判斷某個用戶根據他們的廣告采取行動的可能性有多大,以及向他顯示廣告的價值有多大。出價最高者將廣告推送到用戶屏幕上。與此同時,交易的相關數據被用于更新代理商記錄。

The more pertinent data the bidders get,the more the winning advertiser is likely to bid. This builds in incentives toget as much data to as many bidders as feasible. And that is not particularlyconducive to the protection of privacy.

競價者獲取的用戶數據越多,獲勝廣告商投標的可能性就越大,形成了向競價者提供的數據越多越好的激勵環境,對于保護隱私尤為不利。

The introduction of the gdpr spurred legalchallenges to this system across Europe (see article). Some decisions arealready headed to appeal, and it seems sure that eventually at least a few willmake it all the way up the tree to the European Court of Justice.

《通用數據保護條例》的實施引發了整個歐洲對該體系提出合法性挑戰。有些判決已經被上訴,看來至少有幾起案件最終必將上訴到歐洲法院。



Tech lobbyists in Brussels worry that MsVestager agrees with those who believe that their data empires make Google andits like natural monopolies, in that no one else can replicate Google’sknowledge of what users have searched for, or Amazon’s of what they havebought. She sent shivers through the business in January when she compared suchcompanies to water and electricity utilities, whichbecause of their irreproducible networks of pipes and power lines are stringently regulated.

歐盟的科技說客擔心維斯塔格女士認同一種觀點,即數據帝國使谷歌等公司成為自然壟斷企業,谷歌的用戶搜索數據或亞馬遜的用戶購買數據無法被其他公司所復制。令業界恐慌的是,維斯塔格女士在1月份將它們比作水電公用事業公司,因為無法復制的水管網和電網受到嚴格監管。

Sometimes the power of such networks getsthem broken up: witness at&t. Elizabeth Warren, a senator who wants to bethe Democratic Party’s presidential candidate in 2020, has suggested Facebookand Google could also be split up. Ms Vestager pours cold water on the idea.But Europe’s privacy-plus-antitrust approach offers a halfway house: force thecompanies to share their data, thus weakening their market power and empoweringthe citizenry.

有時公用事業公司因這種網絡的力量而被拆分,例如:美國電話電報公司(AT&T)。參議員伊麗莎白·沃倫希望在2020年成為民主黨總統候選人,他提出臉書和谷歌也可以被拆分。維斯塔格女士對這一觀點潑了冷水,但歐洲將隱私與反壟斷結合的方法提供了折中方案:強制這些企業分享數據,從而削弱它們的市場權力,增加全體公民的自主權。

In mid-March a panel appointed by theBritish government and led by Jason Furman, a Harvard economist who was anadviser in Barack Obama’s White House, advocated such an approach, suggesting aregulator empowered to liberate data from firms to which it provided “strategicmarket status”. An eu panel with a similar remit is expected to issuerecommendations along the same lines soon.

3月中旬,一個由英國政府任命的專家小組支持這種方式,組長是曾擔任巴拉克·奧巴馬總統顧問的哈佛大學經濟學家杰森·福爾曼。該小組提議賦予監管機構權力,讓那些依靠數據獲得“戰略性市場地位”的公司交出數據。預計歐盟一個職權類似的專家小組將很快提出同一思路的建議。

The idea is for consumers to be able tomove data about their Google searches, Amazon purchasing history or Uber ridesto a rival service. So, for example, social-media users could post messages toFacebook from other platforms with approaches to privacy that they prefer. Theinnovative engineers of the tech incumbents would still have vast troves ofdata to work with. They could just no longer count on privileged access tothem. The same principle might also lead to firms being able to demand anonymisedbulk data from Google to strengthen rival search engines. ViktorMayer-Schönberger of Oxford University points to precedent: large Germaninsurers have to share data with smaller rivals to help them gauge risk.

目的是允許消費者將自己的谷歌搜索數據、亞馬遜購物歷史、優步打車記錄轉移到對手的服務平臺。例如:社交媒體用戶可將其他平臺的消息發布到臉書上,前者的隱私政策受到用戶的喜愛。在位科技公司的創意工程師仍有海量數據可用,只是再也無法獨享了。這一原則還可以使企業向谷歌公司索要匿名批量數據,以加強競爭對手的搜索引擎。牛津大學的Viktor Mayer-Schönberger指出先例:德國大型保險公司必須與規模較小的競爭對手分享數據,以幫助后者評估風險。

This may not be as fine a solution as itmight sound. Getting lots of personal data to move freely while also keeping itsafe is not straightforward. Users would be required to give serious thought tothe question of with whom they wanted to share their information, as opposed toblindly clicking “Accept” buttons to get rid of pop-ups, as mostly happenstoday. Anonymising a large dataset—such as a compendium of Google searcheswhich might then be used to train a rival’s algorithms—is harder than it mightseem. Identifiable data about individuals can seep regardless.

這一解決方案可能不像聽上去那么美好。自由轉移大量個人數據的同時又要確保數據安全,這并非易事。用戶會被要求認真考慮與誰分享個人信息,而當今的用戶基本上盲目點擊“接受”按鈕來避免彈窗。匿名處理大型數據庫不是表面那么簡單,例如谷歌搜索匯編可被用于訓練競爭對手的算法。可識別的個人數據仍會被泄露出去。

And there may not be much appetite for it.Following Britain’s lead, the eu has forced banks to allow their clients tomove their data to third parties. But demand for services that letpersonal-finance apps look at your bank statements has yet to take off. Googleand Facebook offer their users the possibility of downloading a portion of thedata those users have provided to the firms (though those taking the offer upare best advised to have a large hard drive). But few rivals have invested incomplementary systems that allow you to upload those data, suggesting that alack of user data is not the factor limiting their ability to take on today’sincumbents.

而且人們對此可能不太感興趣。在英國的引領下,歐盟強制銀行允許客戶向第三方轉移個人數據,但允許個人理財手機軟件查看用戶的銀行結單這類服務的需求并不強烈。谷歌和臉書允許用戶下載一部分他們本人提供給其他公司的數據,但接受該提議的用戶最好準備一塊大容量硬盤。然而,沒有幾家競爭對手投資建造允許用戶上傳數據的互補系統,說明缺少數據并不是限制它們挑戰當今在位企業的因素。

Still, the assumption remains that acombined focus on antitrust and privacy could, over time, both reduce theincumbents’ market power and open up new routes to competition. Enthusiastspoint to ibm, faced with antitrust action, divorcing its software and hardwarebusinesses in 1969. That created a new industry for software writers toexplore. A world of social networks empowered to share aspects of Facebook’smap of who knows whom and likes what, while being free to explore businessmodels other than advertising could produce all sorts of profitable, sociallyuseful innovation by firms in Europe and around the world. And though Facebookmight not do as well in such a future as it would if given free rein, it couldstill prosper. The past half-century has not been an irredeemably shabby onefor ibm.

但仍有人認為,反壟斷與隱私保護相結合可逐漸削弱在位企業的市場權力和開辟新的競爭途徑。支持者指出1969年,遭遇反壟斷訴訟的IBM公司將軟硬件業務拆分,形成一個供軟件開發人員探索的新行業。如果社交網絡界有權分享“臉書”的人際關系與喜好圖譜的同時,自由探索廣告以外的商業模式,就能使歐洲乃至全世界的企業開展利潤豐厚、對社會有益的各種創新。在這樣的未來,“臉書”可能不像自由時那么風光,但仍可蓬勃發展。過去的半個世紀對于IBM來說并非糟糕透頂。

Europe alone might not be able to bring allthis about. But a mixture of the accommodations companies make to it and theexample it sets to others could have a catalysing effect. The appearance of aEuropean commissioner at sxsw is a rarity. ProgressiveAmerican politicians were this year rarely a thumbdrive-throw away. Theycould have done worse than stop by and listen. Demanding that tech giants bebroken up may get the odd rally chanting, but it would be hard to bring about.Calling on them to give power back to the people, though, has a certain ring toit.

單靠歐洲可能無法實現這一切,但企業對歐洲的適應和歐洲樹立的典范可產生催化作用。歐盟委員出席SXSW大會實屬罕見,開明的美國政客今年罕見地靠邊站,他們本可以更強硬而非洗耳恭聽。要求拆分科技巨頭也許能贏得少數人的贊許,但實現起來很難。然而,呼吁它們還權于民有一定意義。