Google Agrees to Change Data Practices to Settle the German Antitrust Probe

Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet, has agreed to alter its user data practices to resolve a German antitrust investigation aimed at addressing its data-driven market dominance, according to the German cartel office. The investigation, which began in January, accused Google of not providing users with sufficient choices regarding the extent to which their data is processed across the company’s services.

This move comes amid increased global regulatory scrutiny of tech giants that rely on targeted advertising based on the vast amounts of user data they collect. The German regulator stated that Google’s commitments would provide users with greater control over how their data is utilised across the company’s platforms.

Andreas Mundt, president of the cartel office, emphasised that these changes protect users’ rights to determine the use of their data and curb Google’s data-driven market power. Google’s commitment covers more than 25 services, including Gmail, Google News, Assistant, Contacts, and Google TV. However, it does not apply to services like Google Shopping, Google Play, Google Maps, Google Search, YouTube, Google Android, Google Chrome, and Google’s online advertising, as these services are subject to the new EU legislation called the Digital Markets Act, which imposes similar obligations.

The German competition authority has intensified its scrutiny of major tech companies since acquiring expanded powers under Section 19a GWB in 2021. This provision allows it to investigate and prohibit certain practices by companies deemed to have significant cross-market power. As a result, the authority has initiated investigations into Amazon, Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook), and Apple. Google’s agreement to change its data practices represents a significant step in addressing concerns related to the market power of tech giants and their data processing methods, aligning with ongoing efforts by regulators worldwide to hold these companies accountable.

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