Italy is starting to worry about the power of Google, which some corners of the country are seeing as getting as bad as the hold that Berlusconi has over the media here.
Indeed, the only reason that Berlusconi has not faced anti-trust convictions here is because he is Italian and his lawyers know how to slow up a court case until it is ruled “out of time”.
Google has not been so lucky and has already fallen foul of the Italian court system.
As a court case between YouTube for using stolen Berlusconi telly content is dragging on, it seems that Italian anti-trust regulators want to snap at Google’s rump.
Italy’s antitrust chief Giovanni Pitruzzella says that he is worried that Google risks becoming a publishing monopoly within a few years. That would not be a problem but as it is antitrust law does not seem to apply to Google or Facebook.
He wants to change the law here so that social networks should be subject to antitrust limits and he can salvage the Italian debt crisis by fining Google lots of dosh.
According to Republica, Pitruzzella told Italy’s lower house of parliament that antitrust regulation should extend to internet media including social networks.
He argued that social networks were competing with traditional publishing companies for advertising revenues. If Google takes too much control then the newspapers which Italy knows and loves will be toast.
That means the ancient tradition of writing copy on behalf of the major political parties will end and they will no longer be able to be used to knife rivals by providing them with leaked documents about alleged corruption.
However, Pitruzzella thinks that it remains essential to open competition in those areas the greater the potential for growth.
He thinks there are a lack of proper rules dealing with e-commerce and this is likely to marginalise the publishing industry. The local press has been flat out trying to build multimedia operations but is finding itself stymied by Google.
The Italian digital advertising market is limited by competition from large international players in the web.
Pitruzzella thinks control of Google and other social media monopolies such as Facebook should be included in any Integrated Communications System.
Franco Bernabe, president of Telecom Italy, told parliament that he was pleased that there is finally a recognition that there individuals working in the internet that have assumed such that pose considerable risks to competition.