Germany’s Gabriel proposes digital regulations

Vice Chancellor criticizes 'uncontrolled data capitalism' and says corporate breakup for Google could be considered

Vice Chancellor criticizes 'uncontrolled data capitalism' and says corporate breakup for Google could be considered

BERLIN – Germany’s Vice Chancellor and leader of the Social Democrats, Sigmar Gabriel, has warned that “digital totalitarianism” poses a threat to citizens and called for stronger regulations in Europe against internet giants - Google in particular.

Writing in the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Gabriel criticized giant digital and internet companies for gathering vast amounts of private information from users, selling it to companies and also providing it to intelligence services.

“Germany’s Ministry of Economy and Federal Competition Authority are currently investigating whether a company like Google would be abusing its dominant position by governing an essential facility, an essential infrastructure and systematically excluding the competitors from the market,” wrote Gabriel, who is also heading Germany’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy.

“Corporate breakup should be seriously considered as it has been in the case of electricity and gas network companies. But only as a last resort,” he stressed, in reference to Google.

- 'Data capitalism'

“As the first step, we are considering regulations for internet platforms,” he added.

“Our task should be to restrain this uncontrolled data capitalism without undermining its innovation power and its individual and social usefulness,” Gabriel said, calling for new policies and regulations at European Union level.

“Europe stands against this totalitarian idea that tries to make each and every detail of human behavior, emotions and ideas, an object of capitalist marketing strategies,” he added.

Germany’s Social Democrat leaders also criticized the US-based internet and digital giants Google, Amazon and Apple for avoiding paying taxes in Europe.

“In the digital economy, we have to make sure that the place where the gain is made should also be the place where the taxes are paid,” Gabriel stressed.

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