Following an interview with Re/code late last week, president Obama has managed to upset officials in Europe for a couple of rather blunt comments regarding America's success with the Internet. For starters, Obama claims that the EU's actions towards regulating the Internet is 'commercially-driven', and is the result of their companies being unable to compete with 'ours'.
In perhaps his most blunt comment, Obama stated, "We have owned the Internet. Our companies have created it, expanded it, perfected it in ways that they can't compete. And oftentimes what is portrayed as high-minded positions on issues sometimes is just designed to carve out some of their commercial interests."
While I think it goes without saying that the US had a big hand in creating the Internet we know today, to say that it alone created it is pushing things a bit far. However, to Obama's defense, he does have a point with the "expanded it" part. Some of the Web's biggest companies are US-formed, like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook. No one can deny the massive impact those American companies and others have had on the global Internet.
Obama's comments specific to this post begins at the 17 minute mark
Commercially-driven or not, the EU does make some good points about the Internet being better regulated, however, I have a hard time putting too much faith in what it recommends based on what I consider to be foolish moves it's forced on American companies in recent years.
Remember the browser wheel that was forced into Microsoft's Windows OS? Or the special "N" version Microsoft has had to create simply because the EU didn't like the fact that the OS included media software? More recently, the EU forced companies like Google to abide by "right to be forgotten" rules, essentially giving anyone the ability to erase personal history from the (EU) Web, simply because it isn't kosher for them. Obama made his thoughts known on these matters as well, stating, "Sometimes their vendors — their service providers who, you know, can’t compete with ours — are essentially trying to set up some roadblocks for our companies to operate effectively there."
This debate could be interpreted a number of different ways, and Americans and Europeans are bound to not find an equal ground. Either way, for what it's worth, this is interesting.