EU’s new Digital Economy Commissioner may hit Google with an IP tax

3 Nov 2014

Günther Oettinger, incoming European Commissioner for the Digital Economy

In what is becoming known as the ‘Google tax’, the incoming European Commissioner for the Digital Economy Günther Oettinger is considering implementing taxes that protect European content and intellectual property.

Oettinger took over the role from Neelie Kroes in recent days and has been quite vocal about his views in interviews with German newspapers over the past week.

Google has been at loggerheads with German media groups for some time now over Google allegedly profiting from their work.

While a German law passed last year requires Google to secure rights to publish anything other than links to articles and headlines, a consortium German publishers in recent weeks backed down and allowed the search giant to display snippets from articles without paying for them.

However, Oettinger is driving for a reform of existing copyright laws that some news outlets have described as anti-Google.

“If Google takes intellectual property from the EU and works with it, the EU can protect this property and demand a charge for it,” Oettinger was quoted as saying in the German newspaper Handelsblatt.

Oettinger has made no secret of his plans to defend German manufacturing industries and media from the rise and rise of Silicon Valley social media giants, search engines and even proponents of driverless cars like Google.

He has been pushing for tougher terms in the EU anti-trust case over Google’s search engine practices and has also been driving proposals for an EU-wide data protection agency.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years