Europe

‘Germany mulling tougher Internet regulation’

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Germany is mulling tougher Internet regulations in terms of anti-trust laws, Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel says.

In an article due to appear in Friday’s edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, Gabriel said the Economy Ministry and Federal Cartel Office are considering whether Internet companies such as Google are abusing their position as market leaders in the way they display search results.

“The key point would be the non-discrimination of alternative providers,” he said, adding that Germany “aims towards an IT security law, obliging firms and the state to take better security measures.”

On May 13, Europe’s top court ruled that Internet firms can be made to remove irrelevant or excessive personal information from search engine results.

The German minister called the ruling a “wake up” call for digital safeguards.

In November last year, German politicians agreed on measures to keep their internal communications safe in light of reports about spying by the US National Security Agency (NSA) on top German officials.

The move came after leaked documents disclosed by American whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed in June last year that the NSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had been eavesdropping on millions of American and European phone records and the Internet data.

The scandal took even broader dimensions later, when the former NSA contractor revealed information about the organization’s espionage activities targeting phone conversations of dozens of world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The German weekly Der Spiegel said in a report published on October 26 last year that the magazine had seen secret documents from the NSA, which show that Merkel’s mobile phone had been listed by the agency’s Special Collection Service since 2002.

The report added that Merkel’s mobile number was still on a surveillance list in June 2013.

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