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Google Maps: the Federal Cartel Office initiates the procedure

The Bundeskartellamt has initiated proceedings against Google Germany GmbH and Alphabet Inc. The proceedings concern possible restrictions on competition to the detriment of alternative map services on the Google Maps platform.

The Google platform offers access to various map services. These are used, for example, to integrate maps on third-party sites to show the locations of shops or hotels.

According to the preliminary state, Google specifically limits the possibility of combining the services of Google Maps with third-party maps. This can hinder competition in the field of card services.

Another limitation could be that Google strictly regulates the use of its services with the “Google Automotive Services” offering in vehicle infotainment systems. As part of the investigation, customers and competitors of the Google Maps platform will be questioned in the coming weeks.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Federal Cartel Office:

As a company with exceptional cross-market importance, Google is subject to stricter abuse control. We are investigating reports that Google is restricting the combination of its mapping services with third-party mapping services. This is, for example, the possibility of integrating data on the position of Google Maps, the search function or Google Street View on non-Google maps. Among other things, we will now examine whether this practice could further expand Google’s position of power over certain mapping services. The test runs parallel to the license conditions for the use of Google map services in vehicles.

The proceeding is largely based on the new powers that the Federal Cartel Office received under the expanded control of abuse of large digital groups early last year (section 19a GWB). In this way, the Federal Cartel Office can prohibit companies that are of exceptional cross-market importance for competition from practices that endanger competition. At the same time, procedures are already underway for verifying the conditions for processing Google data and the Google News Showcase news service.

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