June 20, 2021

Germany opens Google monopoly investigation


Berlin

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The German Federal Anti-Monopoly Office has put in the center of his target Google, when initiating proceedings against the Internet giant, in accordance with the new regulations for digital corporations and under suspicion of abusively exploiting its dominance over the market. As announced by the authority on Tuesday in Bonn, the cartel office is examining the importance of the company in cross markets for competition, as well as Google’s conditions for data processing. This body, which is in charge of Germany to ensure compliance with antitrust laws, has opened two proceedings against Google Germany GmbH, based in Hamburg, against the Google subsidiary in Ireland and against the parent company Alphabet, based in Mountain View, California.

The president of the Anti-Monopoly Office, Andreas Mundt, has justified that, due to the large number of digital services that the company concentrates, which include the Google search engine, the YouTube video portal, the map service Maps, The operating system Android and the browser Chrome, its services incur a ‘dominant cross-market situation for competition’. He also wonders if Google should exercise control over the most popular browser on the market while competing for advertising space under a selection and measurement system conditioned by the browser itself.

This same office will also take care of the data processing conditions of Google. “Google’s business model is fundamentally based on the processing of its users’ data,” explains Mundt, “so that Google has a strategic advantage because it has established control over access to data relevant to the competition.” Another central question, according to this German authority, is whether consumers “have enough options to use their Google data, if they want to use the services of Google or any other provider.”

The legal basis for starting this research is the new regulations for digital companies, in force in Germany since January of this year within the framework of the Law against Restrictions on Competition (GWB Digitization Law). A central component of this regulation is the modernization of abuse control. This means that the competition authorities can prohibit certain behaviors of large technology groups at an earlier stage or take preventive measures. On this same basis, the authority had already initiated investigations against Facebook Y Amazon in recent months.

Google is already facing various lawsuits for the use of third-party cookies that support the digital advertising system, in addition to an investigation of the European Comission. The booming market for the sale of personal data of mobile app users is facing growing social pushback. On UK there is a multimillion dollar lawsuit against TikTok for facilitating the data traffic of minors and companies in the sector have launched the massive adoption of advertising blockers or browsers that avoid third-party cookies without the need for a specific configuration, with the exception of Google Chrome. A multitude of actors along the chain of custody of user profiles, who facilitate behavioral programmatic advertising, accuse large platforms of using the excuse of privacy for their own benefit, since both Manzana What Google They have direct and trustworthy relationships with the consumer and do not need data transfers for follow-up. They have their own profiles based on encrypted but real email addresses and phone numbers.

This research can have consequences judicial. Already in 2020 the Federal Court of Justice ruled against Facebook after a procedure like this, for having abused its dominance position in social media to collect data from its users illegally, both on its platforms and those of third parties, and impose abusive contractual clauses on users. It was forced to stop automatically collecting personal data from users of applications such as WhatsApp or Instagram.

Germany leads a judicial crusade against Google for years. One of the lawsuits filed against the digital giant has been spearheaded by Angela Merkel, which in 2012 brought the so-called ‘Google Law’ to parliament, the objective of which was for the
company pays the media for the news it offers through its search engine
. The German Consuno and Interior Ministries they accused Google Street View of violating the right to privacy and to the image of citizens and since 2014 the Ministry of Economy of stricter regulation for large groups of Internet.

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