Home office, video conferences, online shopping, streaming services, cloud computing - because of Corona, many more people were intensively on the move in the digital world than ever before.

The big American tech companies in particular have benefited from this: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft.

The Federal Cartel Office has also determined: The pandemic has accelerated developments that were already recognizable before Corona - and led to even more power for the large Internet companies.

Their market value now amounts to more than six trillion dollars, a multiple of the value of all companies listed in the DAX.

Rainer Schmidt

Responsible editor Frankfurter Allgemeine Quarterly.

  • Follow I follow

“The big tech companies can act like unregulated monopolies”, complains about Scott Galloway, professor and American bestselling author (“The Four - The Secret DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google”) in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Quarterly”. In his opinion, they endanger the market economy and democracy - and should therefore be broken up. He would separate WhatsApp and Instagram from Facebook, open the lucrative Amazon Web Services area from Amazon and open the Apple Store to applications from other developers.

The power of the giants, it is alleged, inhibits competition because they can dictate the conditions on the markets they have created, they stifle innovations because potential competitors are "swallowed up" at an early stage, they threaten the privacy of consumers through uninhibited greed for data - and endanger democracy by manipulating opinions and promoting polarization.

Democracies don't have to put up with everything

How the picture looks from a European and German perspective, we discussed in our new video interview series "Quarterly Talk" with Constanze Kurz, who as spokeswoman for the Chaos Computer Club and member of the editorial team of Netzpolitik.org is a recognized Internet- and is a data protection expert who has already worked several times as an expert for the Bundestag and the Federal Constitutional Court.

In her opinion, there is no prospect of European competition in any of the four markets in which "The Big Four" (Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook) are active: "They can all just watch and maybe complain a little."

Constanze Kurz is particularly concerned about the possible effects of concentrated corporate power, such as Google, on the democratic community: “What else can we know without this corporation? And to what extent does it even give us an insight into what we can know? ”In particular, she sees the possibilities of manipulating opinions as a danger. She finds calls to smash companies “not wrong” as a suggestion, because they pointed out to us that the world could also function differently than we are currently experiencing: “I believe that democracies do not have to put up with everything from these Corporations. ”In Germany, so Kurz, the control authorities are“ absolutely understaffed, that's a mockery ”. If you want a serious inspection, you have to provide the appropriate equipment:"But that's really a joke, how little people should care about it."

(By the way, Constanze Kurz has a very personal recommendation for everyday online use: she always tapes off the camera on her laptop - because of the IT insecurity: “There is a risk that someone can access the camera without me knowing still quite big. ")