Opera and Vivaldi founder accuses Google of misusing power – calls for company to be regulated

The founder of Opera and Vivaldi browsers, Jon von Tetzchner, has come out against Google, claiming the company hobbled Vivaldi’s online advertising without clear reasoning days after an interview where he criticised its data-gathering practices. He says Google misused its power and is calling for the search giant to be regulated.

Opera and Vivaldi founder accuses Google of misusing power – calls for company to be regulated

In an interview with Wired earlier this year, von Tetzchner castigated the ad-targeting methods of Google and Facebook, calling instead for an advertising model based on location data. Two days later, he found all of Vivaldi’s campaigns on Google AdWords were suspended without warning. “Was this just a coincidence?” he writes. “Or was it deliberate, a way of sending us a message?”

According to von Tetzchner, when he tried to reach out to Google to resolve the issue, the company came back with unclear reasoning that alluded to “vague terms and conditions”. Google even apparently admitted that some of these rules were not “hard” requirements.  

“In exchange for being reinstated in Google’s ad network, their in-house specialists dictated how we should arrange content on our own website and how we should communicate information to our users,” von Tetzchner claims, noting that the timing of the whole debacle “spoke volumes”.

ZDNet writes that the content Google asked Vivaldi to change related to its end-user licence agreement (EULA), which it demanded the browser add “within the frame of every download button”. According to a Vivaldi spokesperson, Google also asked for the browser to add detailed information about uninstalling Vivaldi; a requirement that doesn’t have direct guidelines in Google’s help articles.

Von Tetzchner goes on to accuse Google of misusing its power, and says he is “saddened by this makeover of a geeky, positive company into the bully they are in 2017”. He adds that this behaviour lends credence to the EU’s £2.14 billion antitrust fine, and that Google is now in a position “where regulation is needed”.

We reached out to Google, and a spokesperson for the company told Alphr “We certainly don’t suspend anyone from Adwords because they criticise us. We do take action against sites that contravene our guidelines and policies about software downloads, which are there to ensure that our users know exactly what they’re downloading and that the installation process is safe and easy to understand. And we follow those same guidelines and policies for our own products.”

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