Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/01/11/google_books_china/

Google too powerful, warns German minister

You can have too much of a non-evil thing

By John Oates

Posted in Government, 11th January 2010 11:11 GMT

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, governments will have to act, the minister told Der Spiegel.

Reuters quotes her as saying: "All in all, what's taking shape there to a large extent is a giant monopoly, similar to Microsoft... My initial response is not to ban something or stop something. But I do want to create more transparency and ensure that users know what is going on with their data. I think the companies have an obligation here, and a lot of things ought to be improved. If that doesn't happen soon we may have to take action as legislators."

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

In other news, the company has moved closer to an agreement with Chinese authors. Google ended up in court for scanning works of a Chinese author without permission.

Google is now ready to apologise to Chinese writers for the unauthorised scanning, AP reports.

Google's book scanning project has been hit by copyright complaints from authors in many different countries. It is now moving closer to agreement in the US but still faces complaints in France and Germany. ®