Google Agrees to Adjust Data Practices, Resolving German Antitrust Probe

Alphabet subsidiary Google has agreed to modify its user data practices, effectively concluding a German antitrust investigation aimed at regulating its data-centric market influence, as confirmed by the German cartel office on Thursday.
Google Play StoreEarlier this year, the German antitrust watchdog issued a statement of objections to Google concerning its data processing terms, asserting that users were not provided sufficient options regarding the extent to which they consented to the extensive processing of their data across Google’s services.

Tech industry giants heavily rely on targeted advertising, leveraging the extensive user data they accumulate. This lucrative business model has come under regulatory scrutiny worldwide, Reuters news report said.

The German regulator highlighted that Google’s commitments would empower users to exercise more control over how their data is utilized across the company’s various platforms.

Andreas Mundt, president of the cartel office, said in a news statement: “In the future, users of Google services will have a much better choice regarding their data, how Google utilizes it, and whether their data may be shared across services.”

Mundt further emphasized that this approach not only upholds users’ rights to determine the use of their data but also mitigates Google’s data-centric market dominance.

Google’s commitment encompasses over 25 other services, including Gmail, Google News, Assistant, Contacts, and Google TV. However, it excludes certain prominent services like Google Shopping, Google Play, Google Maps, Google Search, YouTube, Google Android, Google Chrome, and Google’s online advertising services. These services fall under the ambit of the new EU legislation known as the Digital Markets Act, which imposes similar obligations.

The German competition authority has intensified its scrutiny of major tech corporations since acquiring extensive powers through Section 19a GWB in 2021. This provision allows the authority to investigate and prohibit specific practices by companies deemed to possess paramount significance and cross-market power. As a result, investigations have been initiated into Amazon, Meta Platforms, and Apple.