German Economy Minister pledges tougher Internet regulation

BERLIN Fri May 16, 2014 1:44am IST

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel speaks about the government's policies on Germany's energy transition during a session of the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, in Berlin, May 8, 2014. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel speaks about the government's policies on Germany's energy transition during a session of the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, in Berlin, May 8, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Thomas Peter

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's Economy Minister called a ruling by a European court that Internet firms can be made to remove personal information a "wake up" call for digital safeguards, adding Germany is mulling Internet platform regulation in terms of anti-trust laws.

In an article due to appear in Friday's edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) Sigmar Gabriel said the economy ministry and Federal Cartel Office are considering whether firms 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.

Germany would also "aim towards an IT security law, obliging firms and the state to take better security measures."

Google Germany was unavailable for comment.

Europe's top court ruled on Tuesday that Internet companies can be made to remove irrelevant or excessive personal information from search engine results, in a case pitting privacy campaigners against Google.

Separately, the world's top Internet search engine 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.

(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson, editing by David Evans)

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