Google has outgrown its childhood as a prodigy and its adolescence as the only wunderkind on the block. The company was only started 13 years ago, but in “Internet years” that is a generation, and now Google often finds itself in the unaccustomed situation of “chasing tail-lights” in an effort to keep up with the new digital darlings such as Facebook and the “social media” phenomenon. And Google, like any hard-driving grown-up, has accumulated critics and challengers. Anti-trust authorities in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere have become increasingly attentive and aggressive. Privacy advocates have raised concerns about Google maintaining the fresh dominance that has characterized it in years past. Nowadays, the company is regarded in some quarters as “evil” or at least “potentially evil,” rendering its slogan “don’t be evil” ironic as well as jejune.
In 2006 European Affairs carried an article by lawyer and former Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Robert Herzstein titled “Don’t Expect the WTO to Resolve the Boeing-Airbus Dispute.” His article was prophetic: nearly five years later, fundamentally nothing has changed.
Old-fashioned telephone service on a nationwide basis has been a U.S. objective since 1934, and it has been largely achieved, with 95 percent penetration. Today one of the hot buttons in telecom policy in the US and Europe (and elsewhere) is the need to provide universal coverage for broadband service that can make the internet fully available to users, particularly in remote areas or deprived inner-city zones. (“Broadband access” means the facility allowing an individual computing device to connect by telephone, cable or wireless, to the internet at a megabit-per-second speed, with the target rising toward 100 mbps in many places.)
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