How Google Maps restrictions triggered competition scrutiny in Germany

<strong>How Google Maps restrictions triggered competition scrutiny in Germany</strong>

In Germany, the country’s competition regulator is attempting to know how possible abuses relate to how Google works its Maps product.

It’s a recent proceeding the German FCO (Federal Cartel Office) has opened against Google after earlier and ongoing investigations into the company’s News Showcase licensing practices and data terms

In Germany, the Maps proceeding was first initiated under tougher abuse controls that have applied to Google’s business since January.

The determination reduces the bar for regulatory intervention to work on potential competition concerns. This, therefore, means Google might answer more FCO proceedings that are opened and concluded quickly than when the special abuse controls didn’t apply.

Talking about the Google Maps proceeding, the FCO president, Andreas Mundt, commented, “We have information to suggest that Google may be restricting the combination of its map services with third-party map services, for example when it comes to embedding Google Maps location data, the search function or Google Street View into maps not provided by Google.”

In the meantime, the FCO has stated that it will interview competitors and customers of the Google Maps Platform as part of its investigation.

In response, the Google spokesperson commented, “Developers and businesses choose to use Google Maps Platform out of many options because they recognize it provides helpful, high-quality information for users. They are also free to use other mapping services in addition to Google Maps Platform – and many do. We always cooperate with regulators and are glad to answer any questions they may have about our business.”

Google, since its special abuse controls started applying to business, has affected policies on how it works its news licensing product and has suggested others in an attempt to settle the FCO probe.

The proceeding is still open as the regulator said it will consult on the changes enunciated by Google and will continue to track the firm’s negotiations with publishers over the licensing terms.

This new reality for Google in Germany shows a more responsive oversight reign to competition concerns.

The FCO’s other scrutinies

In May, the FCO believed that Meta, Facebook parent, faces additional scrutiny over how it works in the market.

There’s also an ongoing proceeding by the FCO to determine if iPhone maker, Apple should be scrutinized. In early June, the regulator intensified and announced that it’s probing Apple’s app privacy framework.

More so, the competition regulator in Germany has been testing Amazon’s market power to determine if it should be scrutinized since May 2021. 

In early this year, EU lawmakers agreed on a significant ex-ante update to competition rules, which is about to be implemented in early 2023

This will bring a new regime of up-front operational regulations that will apply in the bloc for big techs that meet the meaning of internet ‘gatekeepers.’

Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay