Jon von Tetzchner, co-founder and CEO of Vivaldi web browser, has in an official blog post slammed Google of being a “bully” and said that it is “misusing” its power in the internet world. It is no secret that Google enjoys a monopoly in web search, with Chrome, and rival browsers such as Vivaldi and Opera — both created by Tetzchner — are being pushed into oblivion. But it is not just search where Google is ultra-powerful. Web advertising too is Google’s own playground, with only Facebook posing any kind of challenge of late.
Tetzchner alleges that Google recently blocked Vivaldi’s access to AdWords — Google’s online advertising platform — and that cost his company dear. “Recently, our Google AdWords campaigns were suspended without warning. This was the second time that I have encountered this situation … Being excluded from using Google AdWords could be a major problem, especially for digital companies,” he wrote. ALSO READ: Google’s gender ratios show that it is hardly delivering on promises of inclusion
When Vivaldi approached Google with the issue, the latter responded with a “vague” set of orders, and literally dictated the former on how to place content on its website. “When we reached out to Google to resolve the issue, we got a clarification masqueraded in the form of vague terms and conditions, some of which, they admitted themselves, were not a ‘hard’ requirement,” Tetzchner explained in the blog. “After almost three months of back-and-forth, the suspension to our account has been lifted, but only when we bent to their requirements,” he added.
The blog post even earned the attention of WikiLeaks.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) September 5, 2017
The Vivaldi CEO reckons that Google’s block might be a response to his criticism of the search giant in a recent media interview. A Wired article published two days ago had Tetzchner questioning Google’s and Facebook’s business practices in terms of how they collect customer data for advertising dollars, and had even said that Google tracking should be banned. “Was this just a coincidence? Or was it deliberate, a way of sending us a message?” Tetzchner wrote. Incidentally, this is not the first time that Vivaldi has faced Google’s ire.
Vivaldi offers a version of the Chrome browser that strips away all of Google’s spying mechanisms. As a result, Google blocks Vivaldi from being compatible on a host of its products, including popular ones like Google Docs. Vivaldi, and even Opera for that matter, has to hide its identity while access these services. And users, when they face issues, are compelled to switch browsers. “Now, we are making the Vivaldi browser. It is based on Chromium, an open-source project, led by Google and built on WebKit and KHTML. Using Google’s services should not call for any issues, but sadly, the reality is different,” Tetzchner wrote. ALSO READ: Vivaldi browser 1.11 adds enhanced reader mode, GIF control and more
It’s unfortunate that Tetzchner’s impression of Google has changed from that of a “likable company” in the times of Sergey Brin when Opera had “co-operated” with the search giant to build its own browser. “However, then things changed. Google increased their proximity with the Mozilla foundation. They also introduced new services such as Google Docs. These services were great, gained quick popularity, but also exposed the darker side of Google,” claimed Tetzchner. Google is yet to respond to these allegations.