It seems a long while since Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp was at war with Google and his minions were referring to the search engine as “parasites or tech tapeworms in the intestines of the internet”.
These days, the biggest thorn in the side of the Silicon Valley giant is the German publisher Axel Springer, owner of the nation’s biggest paper Bild, which exists behind a paywall.
Springer’s CEO, Mathias Döpfner, wrote an open letter to Google boss Eric Schmidt in the form of a newspaper editorial in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in which he said that Google operated a “business model that in less honourable circles is referred to as protection money – ie if you don’t want me to kill you, you have to pay me”.
Last month, Springer bought a 20 per cent stake in Paris-based search engine Qwant, which claims to focus on data privacy and boasts of a no-tracking policy.
Mr Döpfner would be seen as a potential ally for some of the British press groups who also fear the power of Google. If only he hadn’t been such an enthusiastic backer of new European President Jean-Claude Juncker, the new hate figure of much of the British media.