Google, Web Giants

Web Giants vs Governments

As powerful Web giants continue to grow and intertwine themselves in the very fabric of the World Wide Web, as we know it, it was only a matter of time before a clash of powers between the Governments coercive rule of the Internet, and the hugely influential Web behemoths. The first big confrontation was between Yahoo, who at the time were recognised as not only the number one portal to the Internet but a powerful name throughout the Web, and that of the French Government.

Mark Knobel a Frenchman living in Paris, who was highly against neo-Nazism, was horrified to find a huge collection of Nazi memorabilia that was available to purchase in France but was hosted by Yahoo on a computer server in the United States where the Internet giant was located. This led to Mark Knobel suing Yahoo on April 11th 2000 for breaching the ‘International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism’ in a French court. Knobel stated that Yahoo’s auctions did not adhere to French Law that banned any trafficking of Nazi goods within its country and so violated this law. True as this was, Jerry Yang, Yahoo’s leader soon had Yahoo standing its ground by telling the French court that there was only one Internet with many countries and laws.

This led Yang to soon conclude that Judge Gomez was only capable of exercising any kind of power or control in France and therefore had no way of stopping what Yahoo was to put on its servers back in California. Therefore, Yahoo remained indignant towards Judge Gomez, who ruled that Yahoo had violated French law and ordered them to take any necessary measures to make it impossible for French Internet users to gain access to Yahoo’s illegal auction sites.

It was on November 20th 2000 in Paris’s Tribunal de Grande Instance, housed within Palais de Justice a unique but haunting building situated a few blocks from the Notre Dame Cathedral, that Yahoo would defend the conventional wisdom of the Internet against the French government. It was here that Gomez issued his final warning towards Yahoo, who again remained defiant and refused to do anything unless a United States court made it.

The problem with this decision was that Yahoo had overlooked one major element that proved a decisive factor and that was that Yahoo had a lot of assets in France including a French subsidiary bringing in a sizeable income to the company all at risk. It was at this point that chief executives in the Yahoo setup began to seriously rethink things and on January 2nd 2001 the Internet giant abruptly surrendered.


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