The German competition regulator is investigating possible abuses related to the way Google manages its Maps product.
This is the latest procedure that the Federal Cartel Service (FCO) has launched against Google – with earlier (ongoing) investigations of the technology giant News Showcase Licensing Practices and is data conditions. However, the Maps procedure is the first to be initiated under the stricter abuse control that applies to Google’s business in Germany since January – when the regulator determines that it meets the threshold for a preliminary reform of competition law, which targets digital giants “of paramount importance for competition in different markets”.
Determination lowers the bar for regulatory intervention to address potential competition concerns. So, in practice, this means that Google may face more FCO productions – which are open and can be completed faster – than if the special abuse control is not applied.
Commenting in a statement on the Google Maps procedure, Andreas Mund, president of FCO, said: “We have information that suggests that Google may limit the combination of its own mapping services with third-party mapping services, for example when it comes to embedding Google Maps location, search, or Google Street View data in maps not provided by Google.
“Among other aspects, we will now examine whether this practice can allow Google to further expand its authority over certain mapping services. We’ll also look at the license terms for using Google Mapping services in vehicles.
The FCO added that it will interview customers and competitors on the Google Maps platform as part of the investigation.
We contacted Google for comment. A company spokesman told us:
Developers and companies choose to use the Google Maps platform from many options because they recognize that it provides useful and high-quality information to users. They are also free to use other mapping services in addition to the Google Maps Platform – and many do. We always work with regulators and are happy to answer any questions they may have about our business.
As special abuse control began to apply to his business, Google has made changes about how he manages his news licensing product and suggested some others in an obvious offer to arrange this FCO investigation.
Although at the time of writing the proceedings remain open. As early as January, the regulator said it would consult on changes proposed by Google and would continue to monitor the company’s negotiations with publishers on licensing terms.
The new reality for Google in Germany is a more responsive surveillance regime to competition concerns.
Last month The FCO also concluded that Facebook’s mother, Meta, falls within the scope of the pre-regime – which means that it also faces additional control over how it operates in the market.
The FCO’s procedure for determining whether the Apple iPhone manufacturer must also have the designation. But, earlier this monthThe regulator has announced an investigation into Apple’s privacy framework, which it says is based on behavior that “could possibly” be classified as meeting the threshold for applying the special abuse regime, so the FCO seems willing to avoid wasting time on to be able to use proactive forces.
The German competition regulator is also testing Amazon’s market power to make the same decision since then May 2021. So the e-commerce giant can it will soon face increased attention to its German operations.
Earlier this year, European Union lawmakers agreed on a major preliminary update of competition rules should take effect early next year – Introduce a new regime of ex-ante operational rules that will apply throughout the block to technology giants that meet the definition of Internet “gatekeepers”. The EU’s Digital Markets Act is backed by a regime of heavy sanctions for non-compliance.