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Google must be more transparent, says German justice minister

Google is becoming a giant monopoly like Microsoft and could face legal action if it does not become more transparent, according to Germany's justice minister.

Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine that she is concerned Google is gathering too much power and information about people.

The minister said she wants to create more transparency and ensure that users know how their data is being used, according to Reuters.

"I think the companies have an obligation here, and a lot of things ought to be improved. If that does not happen soon, we may have to take action as legislators," she said.

But a spokesman for Google in Germany said that offering users full transparency was central to how the company operates and that it is constantly working to make improvements.

The German minister's call comes just a week after three groups representing US authors issued an open letter calling on the US Congress to oppose a revised industry settlement with Google that seeks to clear the way for millions of books to be digitised and sold online.

The National Writers Union, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America said the amended version of the settlement still creates a de facto monopoly for Google at the expense of all Americans.

The letter calls for the US Department of Justice's continued close scrutiny of the settlement. A hearing on the fairness of the revised settlement is scheduled for 18 February.


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