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Google, Facebook becoming 'too powerful', German media boss says in open letter

Written by James Delahunty @ 19 Apr 2014 6:54 User comments (3)

Google, Facebook becoming 'too powerful', German media boss says in open letter Google and Facebook have come under fire from a powerful source in Europe concerning their business practices and treatment of Internet users' privacy.
Axel Springer chief executive Mathias Dopfner wrote an open letter to Google chairman Eric Schmidt in which he described the company as a monopoly, and its top brass as seeking to operate in a 'legal vacuum' without the hassles of anti-trust and privacy, a kind of 'superstate.'

Dopfner's open letter was published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, which is not one of the 200 newspapers and magazines that Axel Springer publishes. It came after a column written by Eric Schmidt said the relationship between both companies was challenging, but that they had managed a multi-year deal regardless.

On that relationship, Dopfner said he admired Google's entrepreneurial success and was happy to have a relationship with the firm, but that it wasn't like there was much of an alternative for Axel Springer to choose from.

The letter cautioned Google that monopolies do not survive long throughout the history of economics.

Technology companies are becoming too powerful

The open letter argued that tech firms like Google and Facebook are becoming too powerful, more than most people are aware.

"With the exception of biological viruses, there is nothing with such speed, efficiency and aggressiveness that spreads like these technology platforms, and this also lends its creators, owners and users with new power," Dopfner writes.

As an example, Dopfner referenced the recent agreement between Google and the European Commission to end an anti-trust probe into the search giant. Google had been accused by multiple sources of favouring its own services in search results over competitors, and of abusing its position in the advertising market.

Google and the Commission announced a bunch of concessions made by Google to close the case, but Dopfner feels that it still allows Google to abuse its position. The European Commission has "sanctioned the introduction of a business model, which in less honourable circles is called extortion," according to Dopfner.

Mark Zuckerberg's 'totalitarian' tone & Larry Page's lawless fantasy

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn't escape criticism either. In the open letter, Dopfner brings up a response that the Facebook boss gave to a question at a conference that he found disturbing. He had been asked about Facebook's collection of data and its measures to protect the privacy of its users, to which Zuckerberg allegedly replied: "I do not understand your question. Those who have nothing to hide, have nothing to fear."

Dopfner's analysis of this response shows just how much of an affect that it had on him.

He writes: "Again and again I had to think about this sentence. It's terrible. I know it is certainly not meant that way. This is a mindset that was fostered in totalitarian regimes not in liberal societies. Such a sentence could also be said by the head of the Stasi or other intelligence service or a dictatorship."

Speaking of totalitarianism, Dopfner also pointed out that Google co-founder Larry Page had said in the past that the company wanted to develop ideas but had been unable to because they were "illegal." He questioned whether Google's long-term plan was to eventually operate in a legal vacuum, a type of superstate without the hassle of anti-trust or privacy.

Sources and Recommended Reading:
Google under fire from European media tycoon:
Curriculum Vitae - Dr. Mathias Döpfner: (Picture Source)

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3 user comments

119.4.2014 16:54

It is true though...can never trust anything these days...

219.4.2014 19:14

Totally agree cant trust anything

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321.4.2014 07:51

Since the US government is so corrupted by corporate bribes, we give these corporations a little fear, if not total smackdowns.

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