German cartel office issues objections to Google data processing

Germany’s cartel office regulator said it issued objections against Google’s data processing terms and that it expected the company to make changes accordingly.
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The cartel office in a news statement said it sent a preliminary legal assessment on December 23 to Google parent company Alphabet, Google Ireland and Google Germany. A final decision in this matter is expected to be issued in 2023.

It said users were not currently given sufficient choice as to whether and to what extent they agree to the far-reaching processing of their data across services.

A spokesperson for Google said the company would continue to engage constructively with the German regulator to try to resolve its concerns.

“People expect us to operate our business responsibly — by both maintaining product experiences that put users first and updating our services continuously to meet the expectations of regulators,” the spokesperson added.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt, said: “Google’s business model relies heavily on the processing of user data. Due to its established access to relevant data gathered from a large number of different services, Google enjoys a strategic advantage over other companies.”

“Google’s practices must be measured against the requirements under the new competition rules for large digital companies. The company has to give users sufficient choice as to how their data are processed.”

Google can combine a variety of data from various services and use them, for example, to create very detailed user profiles which the company can exploit for advertising and other purposes, or to train functions provided by services.

The company’s terms set out that Google may, for various purposes, collect and process data across services, for example by way of its numerous own, partly very widely used services, such as Google Search, YouTube, Google Play, Google Maps and Google Assistant, but also by way of numerous third-party websites and apps.

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