Bundesnetzagentur insists Google, Facebook should be regulated like telcos

Germany’s telco watchdog on Thursday reiterated its conviction that US Web giants like Google and Facebook should be subject to the same regulations as operators.

The Bundesnetzagentur is in the midst of a protracted legal battle with Google after it ordered the company to register Gmail as a telecoms service, which would require Google to provide access to law enforcement agencies.

In a report by the Financial Times, Bundesnetzagentur president Jochen Homann insisted that in the age of OTT services like WhatsApp, consumers don’t distinguish between communicating over the Internet or via traditional telco services.

The Google case is currently being heard by the European Court of Justice; Homann said if the decision goes his way, Bundesnetzagentur will order other OTT communication providers to register as telcos too.

"It cannot be right that a company providing traditional telecommunications services has to meet certain regulatory requirements, like those concerning data protection, while a company providing comparable services over the Web does not," he said in the report.

Echoing the oft-repeated sentiments of European telecoms incumbents, Homann invoked the now-legendary "level playing field" between telcos and OTTs.

"We want these companies to meet the same regulatory requirements in principle as conventional telecommunications companies," he said.