“With the exception of biological viruses, there is nothing with such speed, efficiency and aggressiveness that spreads like these technology platforms, and this also lends its creators, owners and users with new power.”
— Mathias Dopfner, chief executive of Axel Springer, Europe’s biggest newspaper publisher by circulation. In an open letter to Google published Wednesday in a German newspaper not published by Axel Springer, Dopfner also said: “We are afraid of Google. I must say this so clearly and honestly since scarcely one of my colleagues dares to do this publicly. And as the biggest of the small fry, we must perhaps be the first to speak plainly in this debate.”
Dopfner’s letter was a response to a recent column (in the same newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt that warned against heavy-handed European regulations he said would hinder innovation. Schmidt mentioned the Silicon Valley company’s improved advertising relationship with Axel Springer. But Dopfner reportedly wrote that his company had no choice but to do business with Google because of its dominance in search.
The European Union has been looking into antitrust allegations against Google search for years, a tentative deal was reached earlier this year.
In his letter, the Axel Springer CEO also took aim at Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Larry Page, blasting the two CEOs on their stances on privacy, and criticizing Google’s many projects. Of Page, he said: “He dreams of a place with no privacy laws and without democratic accountability.”
Photo by Patrick Tehan/Mercury News archives