Merkel and the Digital World

At the Dual Year Germany Mexico event in Mexico City earlier this month, German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the lack of regulation within the transglobal digital world, pointing out the relative freedom companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon enjoy in comparison to those involved in areas such as finance or trade.

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Merkel stated that the world needs to introduce an international policy to govern Industry 4.0, a term used by German politicians to describe the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), smart devices, and automation. She argued that the need is pressing as the disparate national policies currently in place could prove disastrous at any moment.

"We still have no international rules," Merkel explained during her visit. "Some provider could emerge ... that's an island, and from which things could be done, relevant to security, that could destroy an entire system. On this question of the rules-based handling of it, we're still right at the start."

A European Battle

Europe has already begun to take serious action against the misuse of data, now the world's most popular resource. European antitrust officials just fined Google a record $2.7 billion for skewing results in their own favor. Meanwhile, Germany has been spearheading the prosecution of digital data firms, recently introducing a 9th amendment to the German Competition Act (ARC) that makes it easier to fine digital companies.

However, Merkel has no plans to wait for something to be done on a global scale. Her goal is to lay the groundwork for global regulation at a G20 summit in July, working out a consistent policy on how to approach the possible violations of security, privacy, and coercion enacted by internet behemoths.

As Merkel noted during her visit to Mexico, ensuring the security of the digital world will require international collaboration, so hopefully all of the countries in the G20 will be open to working together to that end when they meet in Hamburg in a few short weeks.

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