German competition watchdog is watching Google more closely

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LONDON (AP) – The German antitrust watchdog on Wednesday paved the way for further scrutiny of Google GOOG,
-4.68%
by designating it as a company of “paramount importance”, the first to obtain this label since the regulators obtained more power to fight against the abusive practices of the big digital companies.

The Bundeskartellamt said its move comes after rules were introduced last year that allow it “to intervene earlier and more effectively” to ban companies from engaging in anti-competitive practices. The regulator’s decision, which lasts five years, gives it extensive powers to oversee Google in the event of “abuse control”.

The watchdog said Google has “significant influence” on other businesses’ access to its users and ad customers through search, YouTube, Android and its online play store “and may set rules and conditions for other companies in all markets “.

This is the latest example of how big tech companies face pressure as their dominance stifles competition and hurts consumers. Europe has led the global movement to crack down on tech giants, but early efforts have drawn criticism that investigations have taken too long, some spanning years – an issue German rules are targeting to solve.

“This is a very important step, because on the basis of this decision the Bundeskartellamt can now take action against specific anti-competitive practices by Google,” said the chairman of the watchdog, Andreas Mundt.

Google is not appealing the decision. He noted that the decision does not take a position on the conduct of the company.

“We are confident that we are playing by the rules and, to the extent that changes are needed, we will continue to work constructively with (the Federal Cartel Office) to find solutions that enable people and businesses in Germany to continue to use our products, ”Google said in a statement.

The German regulator began reviewing Google’s handling of personal data and its Google News storefront last year and is also investigating Amazon AMZN,
-1.89%,
Apple AAPL,
-2.66%
and the Facebook parent Meta FB,
-3.67%.


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