German Competition Authority Clears Path to Investigate Google Practices | Economy


The Google logo at the main entrance to the headquarters of its parent company, Alphabet.
The Google logo at the main entrance to the headquarters of its parent company, Alphabet.DPA via Europa Press (Europa Press)

The German competition regulator seems willing to go after the giant Google and its anti-competitive practices. Almost eight months after opening the file, the Bundeskartellamt has taken another step in its investigations that clears the way to limit the activities of the US technology company in the country. This Wednesday the independent authority has classified Google as a company with “significant importance in the markets.” This is the basis for taking action against the company and its practices that harm competition.

“With more than 80% of the market share, Google occupies a dominant position in the market for general search services in Germany and is the main provider of search-based advertising,” explains the agency in a statement made public on its page. Web. In addition, in its digital ecosystem “Google has a considerable influence on the access of other companies to its users and advertising clients,” he adds, and gives Google’s own search but also YouTube, Android and the Play Store as examples. This allows you to define the rules and conditions for other companies, details the text.

“This is a very important step,” says the president of the federal competition office, Andreas Mundt. An amendment to the German competition law that came into effect in January 2021 makes it easier to investigate the behavior of large digital corporations and act quickly by banning practices it deems inappropriate. In this period the Bundeskartellamt has initiated proceedings against three other platforms: Facebook, Amazon and Apple.

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This decision on Google, which also affects the parent company, Alphabet, is the first made by the agency based on this “new instrument”, in the words of Mundt. Considering that technology is “of the utmost importance” to the market, it will now be able to “take action against Google’s specific anti-competitive practices.”

German law is a pioneer in fighting the anti-competitive practices of digital giants in Europe. Several European governments, as well as the European Commission, launched an offensive a few years ago to try to limit the dominance over the data of individuals and companies that exercise large technology. Brussels has a formal investigation into Apple for possible restrictions on competition through its App Store and its Apple Pay payment service.

There is also a proceeding against the giant of the sale online Amazon on the abuse of its dominance position by using information from companies that use the platform to market their products. Italy imposed a 1,128 million euro sanction on the US e-commerce company in December for penalizing independent sellers who use its digital platform but did not use Amazon’s own logistics service.

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The German authority has two other proceedings against Google, one on data processing and the other on the Google News Showcase news service. “Google’s business model is fundamentally based on the processing of its users’ data. Google has a strategic advantage, “said Mundt last May. Regarding the news service, the antitrust office assured that Google must ensure that there is no discrimination between publishers and providers of news that the company highlights for its users.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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