Feature

Declaring war on Google is a lost cause.

The week's news at a glance.

France

EditorialDer Spiegel (Germany)

Nothing bugs the French like Anglo domination of international media, said Der Spiegel in an editorial. That’s why President Jacques Chirac, in a bid to prevent Google and Yahoo from controlling the Internet search-engine market, has been championing a “world-class” European alternative. The goal of “Quaero,” as the project is called (the name, Latin for “I seek,” evokes both “query” and “euro”), is to outdo its rivals by using images as well as text in information searches. But Germany, which was to supply the technology, has backed out, and the project is now purely French. The Germans, it seems, had grown wary of Chirac’s “Napoleonic ambitions”: Investing in technology is one thing, but declaring war on Google quite another. The two countries bickered with each other and with European Union regulators until they finally parted ways. The main lesson from this “fiasco,” then, isn’t the futility of battling a corporate behemoth. It is to never underestimate how easy it is for “European harmony” to fall apart.

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