Why should we fear Google because of data protection

The influence of Google and Co. is enormous : German companies fear for digital sovereignty

A typical working day in Germany is hardly imaginable without digital technologies from abroad. Video chats via Microsoft Teams, planning via Google Docs, the use of laptops and smartphones that were not made in Europe. In 2019 even the federal government had to admit that it was “largely” dependent on the US group Microsoft. Even during the pandemic, states had to recognize that they are heavily dependent on cooperation with tech companies such as Google or Apple when developing Corona apps.

Companies see this as a problem. The digital association surveyed 1,100 companies from various industries: 100 percent stated that Germany needed to achieve more digital sovereignty. This is the result that the digital association Bitkom published on Thursday. 94 percent of companies say they are dependent on imports for digital technologies, only two percent do not import digital products. Almost half even assume that the technological lead of other countries can no longer be made up for Germany and that Europe's digital dependency will continue to increase in the coming years.

Tagesspiegel Background Digitization & AI

Digital politics, regulation, artificial intelligence: The briefing on digitization & AI. For decision-makers and experts from business, politics, associations, science and NGOs.

Free test now!

Gaia-X gives hope

"In the past few decades we have lost ground in some areas, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it has to continue like this," says Bitkom President Achim Berg. "If we can now make the right decisions and specifically promote key digital technologies we initiate the trend reversal. ”He has great hopes for the Gaia-X cloud project, which is being promoted at European level.

Cloud computing means that large amounts of data no longer have to be stored on one's own computer or the company's computers, as it used to be, but rather the transmissions take place via the Internet. Gaia-X is to network the European providers and thus offer alternatives to US corporations. In addition, the cloud offerings in the Gaia network should be more secure, as data here is protected from possible access by US authorities, for example

Are the companies making themselves vulnerable to blackmail?

The dependence on non-European companies is also a political problem. 14 percent of the participants see a fundamental risk that their company could be blackmailed by foreign business partners or governments. Most of the respondents would like the federal government to prevent Germany's infrastructures from falling into the hands of non-EU companies.

There is currently even a debate in federal politics about whether the state should buy a cloud infrastructure based on the Microsoft Azure stack for the next few years. While the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) is pushing for it, the Interior Ministry (BMI) in particular wants to slow down and sees the digital sovereignty of the federal administration at risk.

In order to no longer be dependent on other countries, Germany would have to develop a lot technologically. Above all, the respondents demand investments in IT security technologies, artificial intelligence and 5G. The digital association Bitkom suggests not to fund too many different projects, but rather to “define and strengthen selected research and funding priorities for key digital technologies”. These projects should be pursued jointly at European level.

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page