The Federal Cartel Office (the Bundeskartellamt), the equivalent of the Competition Authority in Germany, launched proceedings against Google on June 21 to examine “potential anti-competitive restrictions imposed by Google Maps Platform to the detriment of alternative map service providers“. Google Maps Platform brings together all of Google’s mapping services (Google Maps, Google Street View, etc.).
Initial findings show that the Mountain View firm limits “the possibility of combining [ses] map services with third-party maps (…) for example when it comes to integrating location data from Google Maps Platform, the search function or Google Street View into maps not provided by Google“, detailed Andreas Mundt, president of the Bundeskartellamt.
Strict access conditions
More specifically, Google submits the use of its services to very strict conditions which could thus harm competition. For example, cite the German authority, it makes the use of its services in vehicle infotainment systems conditional on “very strict conditions of useapplicable to Google Automotive Services (GAS). Google Automotive Services is a set of applications and services that automotive equipment can choose to license and integrate into their in-car infotainment systems.
This new investigation is based on the new powers of the Bundeskartellamt conferred by the law against restrictions of competition (GWB). Article 19 of this text, the revision of which came into force in January 2021, allows the German Office to prohibit large technology companies that are “of paramount importance for competition” to engage in anti-competitive practices. Several proceedings have been initiated against Google in this context, one on Google’s data processing conditions and the other on Google News Showcase.
Google already sentenced in Italy for similar reasons
Google has already been fined 102 million euros in Italy for its position with Google Maps. In May 2019, the Italian Competition Authority was investigating the exclusion of Android Auto from the Juice Pass electric vehicle app, which favored Google Maps. It concluded that this strategy constituted an abuse of a dominant position by the company.