A digital assistant offers its services: Those who control the technology can influence a billion-dollar market
Photo: Nathalie Lieckfeld / imago images / imagebroker
Voice assistants like Alexa and Siri are not only popular, they also give their manufacturers great control over how their users use the Internet.
The EU Commission has identified worrying developments in a market investigation and intends to work on plans for regulation in the coming months.
As in previous proceedings, the Commission is keeping an eye on the large Internet companies such as Google, Amazon and Apple.
"In practice, these companies determine how different devices and services can communicate and interact with one another," said the responsible Vice President Margrethe Vestager on Wednesday when presenting a market study that is particularly dedicated to the "Internet Of Things".
This includes audio assistants, but also household appliances such as smart TVs or networked smoke detectors.
So far, 200 companies have participated in the one-year study.
A frequent point of criticism is the companies' exclusive control over audio assistants.
This partially prevents the use of alternative systems.
Access to large amounts of user data is also criticized.
In the past, similar investigations have resulted in legal proceedings and fines in, for example, retail, finance and pharmaceuticals.
The information collected can also be used in the deliberations on the planned law on digital markets.
According to the EU Commission, the final report on the investigation is to be published in the first half of 2022.
tmk / dpa