BERLIN: Germany’s antitrust regulator on Wednesday classified Google a company of “paramount significance across markets”, a move paving the way for the authorities to clamp down on any potentially anti-competitive activities.

The decision is the first after an amendment of the German Competition Act came in force January 2021, allowing the authority to intervene earlier, particularly against huge digital companies.

“This is a very important step since based on this decision the Bundeskartellamt (regulator) can now take action against specific anti-competitive practices by Google,” said Andreas Mundt, president of the Federal Cartel Authority, in a statement.

Wielding the new legislation, the authority has over the last year opened probes into US tech giants such as Amazon and Facebook.

In the cases surrounding Google, Mundt said his authority was looking at how the company processes personal data.

It is also examining the US group’s Google News Showcase, which was launched in Germany in 2020 and allows publishers to place journalistic content more prominently online.

Big tech companies have been facing increasing scrutiny around the globe over their dominant positions as well as their tax practices.

In November, Google lost an appeal at the European Union’s second-highest court against a €2.4bil (RM11.38bil) fine imposed by Brussels for abusing its search engine dominance. – AFP



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