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Germany paves way to clamp down on Google activities

Germany's antitrust regulator on Wednesday classified Google a company of "paramount significance across markets", a move paving the way for the authorities to clamp down on any potentially anti-competitive activities.

Germany paves way to clamp down on Google activities
Germany paves way to clamp down on Google activities Photo: AFP

The decision is the first after an amendment of the German Competition Act came in force January 2021, allowing the authority to intervene earlier, particularly against huge digital companies.

“This is a very important step since based on this decision the Bundeskartellamt (regulator) can now take action against specific anti-competitive practices by Google,” said Andreas Mundt, president of the Federal Cartel Authority, in a statement.

Wielding the new legislation, the authority has over the last year opened probes into US tech giants such as Amazon and Facebook.

In the cases surrounding Google, Mundt said his authority was looking at how the company processes personal data.

It is also examining the US group’s Google News Showcase, which was launched in Germany in 2020 and allows publishers to place journalistic content more prominently online.

Big tech companies have been facing increasing scrutiny around the globe over their dominant positions as well as their tax practices.

In November, Google lost an appeal at the European Union’s second-highest court against a 2.4 billion euro ($2.8 billion) fine imposed by Brussels for abusing its search engine dominance.

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TECH

Germany opens anti-cartel probe into Google Maps

Germany's anti-cartel watchdog said Tuesday it has opened a probe into Google Maps over restrictions that may be giving it an unfair advantage over competitors.

Germany opens anti-cartel probe into Google Maps

“The proceeding is to examine possible anti-competitive restrictions imposed by Google Maps Platform to the detriment of alternative map services providers,” the Federal Cartel Office said in a statement.

Andreas Mundt, president of the watchdog, said it had reason to believe that Google “may be restricting the combination of its own map services with third-party map services, for example when it comes to embedding Google Maps location data, the search function or Google Street View into maps not provided by Google”.

The move comes after the Federal Cartel Office in January classified Google┬┤as a company of “paramount significance across markets”, paving the way for the authorities to clamp down on any potentially anti-competitive activities.

Parallel proceedings are already ongoing to examine Google’s terms and conditions for data processing and its news offer Google News Showcase.

An amendment of the German Competition Act came into force last year, allowing the authority to intervene earlier, particularly against huge digital companies.

The watchdog has also classified Meta, the company that owns Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, as a company of “paramount significance across markets”.

Big tech companies have been facing increasing scrutiny around the globe over their dominant positions as well as their tax practices.

The EU and Britain in March opened antitrust probes into a 2018 deal between Google and Meta allegedly aimed at cementing their dominance over the online advertising market.

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