« Martin Schulz, the centre-left’s candidate to lead the European Commission after EU parliamentary elections this month, has joined calls for Google’s market dominance to be subject to strict regulation. »
Two days ago Germany’s Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said a ruling by a top European court on Tuesday that Internet firms can be made to remove irrelevant or excessive personal information from the web was a « wake up » call for digital safeguards. Germany was considering if firms such as Google were abusing their market leader position he said. Google has declined to comment.
« Whoever knows everything about citizens, firms and politicians achieves a level of power which doesn’t belong in a pluralistic democracy, » Schulz, who is president of the European parliament, told Reuters in Berlin.
Besides concerns about what data it displays, the world’s top Internet search engine Google has also faced difficulties over anti-trust issues and how it shows competitors’ information.
Google reached a deal with EU antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia in February by agreeing to display rivals’ links more prominently, hoping to end a three-year-old case that could have led to a fine of up to $5 billion (3.6 billion euros).
Rivals say Google’s concessions do not go far enough and will only entrench its dominance of Internet searches. EU regulators plan to issue a final decision after the summer break.
Google recently started receiving take-down requests after an EU Court upheld the ‘Right to be forgotten’ law. The company said it would take weeks to devise a way to comply with a European Court of Justice ruling that it honour requests to be « forgotten. »
Word that the US Internet titan is grappling with how to implement the judicial order came as it fielded requests from people who want links to deeds or critics deleted from search results. Google did not disclose details about requests, but online reports indicated they include a paedophile and a politician who want references to their pasts to vanish.
(Also see: Google Says Time Needed to ‘Forget’ People)
Written with inputs from Reuters and AFP