By Mauro Orru

 

Germany's federal cartel office ruled that Alphabet Inc.'s Google should be subject to extended supervisory powers, ramping up pressure on the company as probes into Google's processing of personal data and its Google News Showcase service continue.

The cartel office, or Bundeskartellamt, said Wednesday that its decision enabled swifter action against Big Tech, giving it powers to prevent companies of "paramount significance" for cross-market competition from engaging in what it perceives as anti-competitive practices.

"This is a very important step since based on this decision the Bundeskartellamt can now take action against specific anti-competitive practices by Google," said Andreas Mundt, president of the cartel office.

"We have already started to look into Google's processing of personal data and to deal with the Google News Showcase issue in more detail," Mr. Mundt said as the cartel office also conducts other proceedings against Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Meta Platforms Inc.

The cartel office said in June last year that it would look at Apple's influence on cross-market competition in a probe that will focus on the magnitude of the company's technological and financial resources, access to data as well as its App Store, and how it influences the business activities of third parties.

Google won't appeal Wednesday's decision.

"People who use our products and services expect that we operate a responsible business, and that we are regulated. We are confident that we comply with the rules and, to the extent that changes are necessary, 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.

Google is the main search advertising provider and holds a dominant position in the market for general search services in Germany, the cartel office said, meeting requirements to classify Google as of "paramount significance" for cross-market competition.

The authority opened a probe last May into Google's data processing terms to ascertain whether users have sufficient choice as to how Google employs their data.

Another probe into its Google News Showcase service followed in June to ensure Google isn't discriminating against individual publishers or squeezing out competing services offered by publishers or other news providers.

 

Write to Mauro Orru at mauro.orru@wsj.com; @MauroOrru94

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 05, 2022 06:40 ET (11:40 GMT)

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