Google in the sights of German regulators

In Germany, the activities of the firm will be monitored. The country’s competition authority initiates the implementation of a law allowing it to take measures “against certain anticompetitive practices of Google”.

Google’s hegemonic stance worries regulators around the world. In Germany, this fight against unfair competition from digital players has just taken another turn, as the Bundeskartellamt (The Federal Cartels Office) announces that Google’s activities are reaching a threshold that requires increased control of the various services of the firm.

According to an assessment by the German regulator, Google benefits with an 80% market share in the country. In fact, it is mainly these activities on its search engine, YouTube and the Playstore that interest Berlin. The competition authority considers that these accesses to many data of its users allow him to strengthen its advertising targeting strategy.

In its argument, the German government also mentions the market capitalization of the company, which is, according to it, “One of the highest in the world” and who wants to be the reflection “Of the great financial power of Google”.

5 years of investigations

For 5 years, the Bundeskartellamt will therefore be able to actively monitor the firm and take unprecedented measures in the event of violation of local competition laws, in accordance with article 19 of a law revised in January 2021 in the country. A first in Europe, as the EU is currently working on the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which plans to fight against abusive and anti-competitive practices by digital companies.

Two investigations are currently being carried out in Germany, within the framework of this new decision. One concerns how Google’s user data is processed as well as a study on how Google News Showcase works, which allows news publishers to choose which titles and articles they want to feature.

Soon joined by Amazon, Apple and Meta?

Google is not the only company that could in the future be the subject of this increased surveillance. Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt explains:

“Since January 2021, we have a new instrument to monitor large digital companies. In less than a year, we have made the first official decision based on this provision and determined that Google is of paramount importance in all markets. (…) At the same time, we are vigorously pursuing other proceedings against Amazon, Apple and Meta, formerly Facebook. ”

Google should therefore not be the only giant to have to show its feet. The firm has also reaffirmed its willingness to work with the regulator and has announced that it does not want to appeal this decision. A spokesperson for the company nevertheless insisted that this does not mean that the giant “Is necessarily in agreement with all the facts as established by the authority in its decision and the conclusions drawn from these facts”.

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