The Federal Cartel Office warned Google. The reason is the data processing of the group, which processes user information from its various services together.
Google processes data across the board
Of course, these services include the company’s search engine. However, data from YouTube or Maps are also used for this purpose. In this way, the group can “collect data for a wide variety of purposes and process it across services”.
“The business model is fundamentally based on the processing of user data,” explains Bundeskartellamt President Andreas Mundt. The company must “be measured against the requirements of the new competition regulations for digital groups”.
Google has a strategic advantage over other companies here due to established access to relevant data from a very large number of different services.
The Federal Cartel Office calls for more choices
The Bundeskartellamt is demanding that the US group give users the choice. “The company must give users sufficient options with regard to the processing of their data,” demands Bundeskartellamt President Andreas Mundt.
This is not the case with the currently valid conditions. Previous options are – insofar as they exist at all – “too non-transparent and general”.
The Bundeskartellamt would consider it sufficient that users can only limit data processing to the service used. But users should also be able to determine the purpose of data processing.
What happens after the warning?
The Bundeskartellamt’s “detailed reasoned warning” represents an intermediate step in the administrative proceedings currently underway. This warning is intended to give the company the opportunity to comment on the allegations and to provide “further justifications or proposed solutions”.
Google wants to fulfill its responsibility by continuously adapting services, it says in a statement. The group wants to “continue to engage in constructive exchanges with the Federal Cartel Office” in order to “allay concerns”.
In the end, the proceedings may be discontinued, the company may make commitments, or the antitrust authorities may prohibit it.
The Bundeskartellamt expects a final decision in this case in 2023.