The German Federal Cartel Office, the Bundeskartellamthas launched new antitrust proceedings against US digital giant Google because its mapping application, Google Maps, cannot be combined with other mapping services.
The German antitrust body has decided to look into the Google Maps service offered by the American giant, which is also the subject of a separate procedure aimed at examining its data processing conditions, as well as its new product, Showcase.
The president of BundeskartellamtAndreas Mundt, said in a press release on Tuesday (June 21) that his organization is investigating leads suggesting that Google is limiting “the combination of its map services with third-party map services”.
In other words, the American giant could harm competing mapping services by limiting “the possibility of including location data from Google Maps, the search function or Google Street View”the president also said in the press release.
Through this investigation, the Bundeskartellamt will also explore whether such practices could further extend Google’s power over certain mapping services.
“Review extends alongside license terms for use of Google Map Services in vehicles”said Mundt.
This procedure is based on the revised Article 19 of the Law against Restrictions on Competition (GWB), which, since the beginning of 2021, allows the German antitrust authority to intervene earlier and more effectively. against the behavior of large technology companies that have a “dominant impact on competition between markets”.
As part of a two-step procedure, the authority can thus prohibit practices that threaten competition if a preponderant impact on competition between the markets has been observed.
The authority has already launched similar procedures and even taken measures, in particular against the companies Apple, Amazon and Meta.
Distortion of competition
According to the German antitrust authority, competition could potentially be distorted because, according to the preliminary investigation, Google restricts the possibility of combining its map services with third-party maps.
“Another restriction could be that Google heavily regulates the use of its services with the ‘Google Automotive Services’ offering in vehicle infotainment systems”the authority also said.
The investigation will lead to more in-depth interviews with customers and competitors in the coming weeks.
The US giant will also be happy to answer any questions that arise, a Google spokesperson told EURACTIV.
“Developers and businesses choose the Google Maps platform out of many options because they recognize that it provides useful, high-quality information to users. They are also free to use other map services alongside the Google Maps platform, and many do”a Google spokeswoman told EURACTIV.