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Google Alters Data Practices to Conclude German Antitrust Probe

Google, an Alphabet subsidiary, has reached an agreement with the German cartel office to revise its user data practices, thereby resolving a German antitrust investigation focused on restraining its data-centric dominance. This development comes after the German antitrust authority issued a statement of objections in January, contending that Google's data processing terms did not provide users with adequate options regarding the extensive use of their data across Google's various services.

Tech giants, such as Google, rely heavily on leveraging user data to fuel their targeted advertising business models, which have come under increasing regulatory scrutiny worldwide. The German regulator's stipulated commitments from Google aim to afford users greater control over the utilization of their data across the company's platforms.

Andreas Mundt, the president of the cartel office, expressed, "In the future, users of Google services will have a much better choice as to what happens to their data, how Google can use them, and whether their data may be used across services." This shift not only safeguards users' rights to determine their data's use but also mitigates Google's data-driven market influence.

Google's commitment extends to more than 25 other services, encompassing Gmail, Google News, Assistant, Contacts, and Google TV. Notably, it excludes Google Shopping, Google Play, Google Maps, Google Search, YouTube, Google Android, Google Chrome, and Google's online advertising services. These excluded services are subject to the Digital Markets Act, a new EU legislation that imposes similar obligations.

The German competition authority has intensified its scrutiny of Big Tech companies since acquiring enhanced investigatory powers under Section 19a GWB in 2021. This authority empowers them to probe and prohibit certain practices by firms considered to wield paramount significance and cross-market dominance. Consequently, it has initiated investigations into Amazon, Meta Platforms, and Apple.

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