German minister: Google is getting too powerful

Google is becoming too powerful, according to the German economics minister. It is therefore time for action; in extreme cases, the company should even be split up, he believes. Citizens should also be given more control over their data.

In an essay mainly on privacy in the internet age, the German Minister of Economic Affairs, Sigmar Gabriel, expresses his reservations about Google’s dominant market position. If it becomes clear that Google is indeed abusing its competitive position, a split should be “seriously considered,” he writes in the Frankfurter Zeitung. “But that can only be a last resort,” he also writes.

Competitors have long complained that Google is abusing its market position, including by promoting its own services in its search results and by preventing customers from using other advertising providers. Google settled those allegations with the European Commission in February. As a result, Google will give competitors more space in its search results. In addition, Google will no longer hinder advertisers from advertising with competitors.

Gabriel continues to oppose tax avoidance by tech multinationals. More attention should also be paid to privacy, he says. Citizens must regain power over their digital technology, if it is up to the minister. “Personal data is personal property,” Gabriel writes. According to the minister, ‘digital autonomy’ has been lost.