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Germany’s regulator wants platforms on a level playing field

Germany’s regulator wants platforms on a level playing field

Germany’s top telecoms regulator has set its sights on US technology groups such as Google and Facebook, insisting that providers of messaging and email services should be regulated just like ordinary telecoms companies, reports the Financial Times. “What we are seeing is that the line between traditional telecommunications services and web-based services like [Google’s] Gmail and [Facebook’s] WhatsApp has become very blurred. Users often cannot see any difference at all,” Jochen Homann, the president of Germany’s Bundesnetzagentur, said in an interview with the FT.  “It cannot be right that a company providing traditional telecommunications services has to meet certain regulatory requirements, like those concerning data protection, while a company providing comparable services over the web does not,” he added.  The Bundesnetzagentur, or Federal Network Agency, has been locked in a legal battle with Google since 2014, after it ordered the US internet giant to register its email service as a telecoms operator. That status triggers a series of additional regulatory requirements, in areas such as data protection and security, including the obligation to provide information and access to police and security services. The case is currently before the European Court of Justice. Homann made clear that he regards the legal dispute with Google as a test case, and that victory at the European tribunal would be followed by a broader crackdown. “We want European companies to have a level playing field when it comes to data protection, public safety and registration requirements. That would apply to messaging services such as WhatsApp, Facebook and all the others that offer similar services,” he said. Read more

  • Monday, 23 July 2018

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