(Bloomberg) — Google’s market power and control over users’ data faces intense scrutiny in Germany as the nation’s antitrust watchdog added to the list of U.S. tech giants targeted by tough new rules.
Germany’s Federal Cartel Office said Tuesday it’s started two investigations under antitrust measures that allow it to target large digital companies that may dominate several markets.
The authority will conduct an in-depth analysis of Google’s data processing terms, saying the Alphabet Inc. unit enjoys a “strategic advantage” from the information it collects. Regulators also questioned whether users “have sufficient choice as to how Google will use their data.”
“Due to the large number of digital services offered by Google, such as the Google search engine, YouTube, Google Maps, the Android operating system or the Chrome browser, the company could be considered to be of paramount significance for competition across markets,” said Cartel Office President Andreas Mundt. “It is often very difficult for other companies to challenge this position of power.”
The probes are the biggest Google has faced in the region since the European Union ended almost a decade of investigations in 2019, racking up some $9 billion in fines. Mundt and others have been critical of the EU for failing to ensure Google made changes to its business after it was found to have held back smaller rivals for some services.
Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The German regulator is also using its new powers to probe Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. over how their activities in several digital sectors. Facebook is separately challenging an earlier German ruling that ordered it to stop tracking users outside the social network.