back to article Google too powerful, warns German minister

Google is in danger of becoming a monopoly like Microsoft and governments will soon have to act as regulators, the German minister of Justice has warned. Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger believes Google is fast collecting too much information on individuals and needs to be more transparent. If this doesn't happen, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >A spokesman for Google told the magazine that transparency was central to how it worked.

    Yes, little transparency for as long as possible!

    1. Ian Michael Gumby
      Big Brother

      Not quite...

      Think of transparency in terms of a 2way mirror. Sure there's transparency, depending on which side of the mirror you're standing on...

  2. Ted Treen
    Big Brother

    And governments...

    ...don't have a monopoly on their home turf? And misuse/totally abuse it?

    Now which one from NuLab or Google pries into my personal life more, and which one do I consider a greater threat to me and all that I hold dear?

    1. Graham Marsden

      Both are a threat...

      But it's the Tories rather than Labour at the moment:

      Cameron: Give the UK's health records to Google

  3. Anonymous Coward

    There does seem to an awful lot of opaque stuff

    wrapped around that central transparency.

  4. Gulfie

    "A spokesman for Google told the magazine that transparency was central to how it worked"

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha please stop my sides are aching soooo much...

    (gasp) ah that's better. Where do I go for my new keyboard?

  5. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    Please wait while Planet Earth 1.0 upgrades into Google Planet Earth 2.0

    So to briefly recap, we already have... Google Search, Google Maps, Google Books, Google News, Google Earth, Google Video, Google 3D SketchUp, Google Blogs, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Groups, Google Picasa Photos, Google Code Labs, Google IM Talk, Google Email, Google Phones, Google OS, Google Trends, Google Translate and lets not forget they also do, Google manipulative Ad Broker, Google state employed spy and Google censorship.

    Plus lets not forget what else Google is greedily working towards to hook its vast server side spyware into. So much for the long term prospects of the Google Doublespeak "do no harm".

    Google are definitely growing too powerful and somebody needs to stop them getting any more powerful, but no one will. Google must look like a source of pure power to power hungry politicians so eager to "work with" Google so no one in power is really going to stop Google growing ever more powerful. I suspect Hitler could never have imagined the growing power of Google, but future wannabe Hitlers even right now, are already circling the ever more vast information hunny pot, that is Google.

    The Google's Doublespeak about organizing the world's data, sounds at first oh so helpful, yet their Doublespeak conveniently omits so much, like the fact data is knowledge and Google organizing also means Google hooking into the world's knowledge becoming Google knowledge, therefore their doublespeak really means seeing and so spying on the world's knowledge. Which is wonderful when we add in the age old concept that "Knowledge Is Power", so what does that really make Google. They are working to become more powerful than any company in history.

    I think its becoming clear its looking a lot safer in the long run to stay off the Google radar as much as possible to avoid the full force of the growing Google state helped Police State and that includes not hooking our lives into Google Phones (with Google maps and Google GPS etc..). I don't think there's much we can do to stop the Google Information Black Hole Singularity, because so many in power want the power of Google, so sadly its looking safer and wiser to stand back while the Google Sheeple become the Google Pawns who get ever more violated by the growing Google Police State into eventually becoming the first of the Google Police State Victims who suffer as a warning to us all. (I'm sure some Chinese bloggers would already say Google is already there).

    Google's power is far more than business power. Knowledge is power, so Google's power extends far into political power as well and thats now. What the hell are they going to become at this rate. The more I see of their long term plans, the more I can't help thinking Google are seeking to become a truly Orwellian Big Brother. So its no wonder politicians are taking notice of that power, but for all their saber rattling, they won't limit Google even if they say they will. They will simply use their words to negotiate a piece of the power base that is is growing ever more powerful.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      A (virtual) prize...

      ...for the first person that says how many times that post used the word "Google"!

      Aren't we lucky it is just "Google" and not "Google Zombatron Organisation Inc"?

      [I'm being flippant because I already covered a lot of this in a recent posting and got downvoted twice - must have been Google fans... bah... and this is NOT news to El Reg readers, except maybe that a politician someplace actually poked their head above ground and noticed something. :-) ]

  6. Anonymous Coward


    "A spokesman for Google told the magazine that transparency was central to how it worked."

    Hmmm... Ever tried to dispute AdWords bills with server logs and click spamming? Ever tried to get an itemised list of the clicks you have been charged for? Transparently not!

  7. TeeCee Gold badge

    Did I just read that right?

    The Germans are worried that someone might be trying to take over the world?


  8. ShaggyDoggy


    I'm back on Altavista

    1. Piro Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Ahh, Altavista

      I have fond memories, mainly because the url was so easy to remember:

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I wondered when ...

    ... something like this would start.

    But hey! there is a positive aspect too and I'd guess that national governments need to take it on board and that is the required emergence of super-regional, continental and worldwide service provider/solution providers.

    Maybe in good ol' US of A there is a notional understanding of federal nature of things and for the good of the world maybe just maybe there really is a strong need for organisations with a worldwide perspective on things?

    Maybe the 21st century should be a start to avoiding previous notions of monopoly to alternative notions of acceptable, fairplay monopolies?

    I mean, who is going to do the Apple, the google or Microsoft? Who can?

    If one accepts that a monopoly is actually a beneficial state of affairs it then automatically follows that what frameworks should a monopoly organisations uphold and adhere to.

    Who is to say that worldwide service providers are actually threatening?

  10. Bassey

    Not a fan, but...

    I'm not a fan but I'd argue about the monopoly thing. With MS, it was a different matter. Your company probably used Windows - therefore, as an IT person within the company, you used it at home. As home computing took off outside geekdom, people found they needed to use windows to talk with everyone else.

    The only monopoly google has is in online advertising. People can (and do, at extreme length) talk about all the other stuff. The google docs, mail, calendar, phones, im etc. But that is all optional. You don't need it to communicate with others. There are plenty of alternatives out there. I exist quite happily without using any Google apps other than for the odd search. It's not even a concious thing, so there is no effort required. I just don't feel a need to use any of its products.

    Everyone was (pretty much) forced to use Windows in order to get the job done. The public makes a choice to use Google and it is that choice that makes them so powerful in online advertising.

  11. Gulfie

    What's Next?

    Well, that's got to be obvious. If Google are building their own networks, how long before they start selling access?

    Roll up, roll up for your Google high speed internet service with free Google Chrome laptop (terms and conditions apply; The phrases "who's my bitch", "all your interwebs belong to us" and "suck on that, a**hole" are Google trademarks. Google reserves the right to leverage every last byte of information it holds on you if there is even a 5% chance of making money off it. Remember, folks, Google does no evil).

    1. Captain Thyratron

      Bear in mind...

      ...that the efficacy of selling a thing depends on how many people are willing to buy it.

  12. I dont believe it

    Its a sad day...

    When a couple of guys with a great idea end up being lashed by governments for being good at their core business.

    If governments were as successfully at business as the Google guys were then the world might not be in the state it is in today.

    As Bassey says, you can choose to use Google tools or not. Try choosing not to use Windows but still play the latest and greatest Computer video games. I know that Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 definitely doesn't run on my Fedora 12 Linux box or my Centos box.

    How can Google be a monopoly if there are other search engines out there that others are free to use if they so choose. I use Google because it gets me the results I want. its not cluttered with junk like a lot of search engines.

    Well thast my 2 cents worth. Now to see if i can actually post this.

  13. michael4096

    another pussycat

    If any future Google regulator is as effective as the current telco regulator, Google has no problems. Do as Deutsche Telekom - rub its tummy and watch it purr.

    Mis L-S should get her current house in order about today's problems before making threats over things that may or may not happen tomorrow.

  14. wgae
    Big Brother

    Good to see someone waking up...

    ...albeit German and therefore a bit slow maybe, but hey - it's a start. :-) What we're seeing here is careful checking of public sentiment. Sarcozy began, Merkel followed, now a 2nd line German politician checks whether anti-Google statements resonate with the general audience. Expect more of this (in Europe) in 2010. Oh, what joy!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Just wondering ...

    <Queue: soundtrack; Bob Dylan: The Times They Are a' Changing>

    We know how much of a mess governments can make of things. Here in Europe it is fair to say that the 20th century is fairly described as a century of conflict. (Think: one's gain is another's pain).

    But evolution evolves.

    In the UK 1980's should one wish to travel to the "Eastern Block" one would have to report to police before and after the visit and probably feature highly on at least two radar screens: the home one and the away one.

    Now one can tootle off to Prague, Budapest, Bucharest, ... and wallow in their beautiful, remarkable and resilient traditions (the beer isn't half good, the spirits and liqueurs a bit fantastic really - and the food! Straight from the garden to the kitchen, from the kitchen to the diner. Not a deep freeze or microwave insight in sight).

    So where is this post going?

    To propose, posit and espouse that natural evolution of service provisioning is indeed going to make for organisations with a worldwide footprint and the we the people deem it to be so and, more the pity, the self-interest politicians will deem it NOT to be so.


    Now is the time for the like of google, ... to make representation to appropriate bodies (including UN?) that they mean no evil?

    For the UN ( or some similar body but in existential terms the UN do, be and are) to be a conduit of discussed practice for organisations catapulted by populist and popular support into monopolistic charm and demeanour? And for those organisations to respond with equality of maturity and vision into being accountably robust?

    </Queue: soundtrack; Bob Dylan: The Times They Are a' Changing>

    Paris: because I am sure she will understand?

  16. George 24


    Quote: "If governments were as successfully at business as the Google guys were then the world might not be in the state it is in today."

    That is 100% correct. We would be in a much worse state where all non profitable endeavors would have been canceled. You know stuff like Health, Unemployment benefits and all other unimportant things like that.

    Google is far too powerful and far reaching. Just read some of their Terms of Use carefully... It is time that some Governments look into it.

    1. spiny norman

      Not quite true

      Google is successful against the objectives they set for themselves and that are set for them by the stock market. Success means, amongst other things, growing revenue and profit.

      It would be reasonable to assume that governments have different objectives from a public company, and those objectives might include improving the welfare of its citizens without bankrupting the public finances. On that basis, UK governments of the last 50+ years have been abject failures. If, however, the real objective is to maximise the outgoing prime minister's income from lecture tours, or the chances of an outgoing minister getting non-exec directorships with large companies, then they've all done pretty well.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hurraayyy, for the German...

    government. It's well past time that governments took notice that Google is collecting or has the ability to collect far too much information about anyone on the Internet.

    We need governments to hold corporations to task and we need to hold governments to task to ensure they act in our best interest. Not an easy task when one can readily suspect that many governmental officials, elected or otherwise, are on the take from said corporations.

    We certainly live in interesting times.

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