Business

Europe has fined Google $10 billion in recent years. Now Germany is investigating whether its data slurping gives it an unfair advantage.

Sundar Pichai
Sundar Pichai, Alphabet’s chief executive, is facing up to another antitrust case.

  • German officials have launched a fresh antitrust investigation into Google’s business practices.
  • The tech giant has been fined more than $10 billion by European legislators in recent years.
  • Germany’s FCO said Google’s data collection practices gave it a ‘strategic advantage.’
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Google is facing yet another antitrust probe in Europe, after German authorities announced they were investigating whether the firm’s data collection practices give it an unfair advantage.

On Tuesday morning, the Federal Cartel Office (FCO) issued a statement saying it would investigate Google’s business practices in line with a recent amendment to German law, which enables it to “intervene earlier and more effectively … against the practices of large digital companies.”

The watchdog said that Google’s panoply of essential digital services, such as search, YouTube, Maps, Android, and Chrome, it “could be considered to be of paramount significance for competition across markets.”

FCO president Andreas Mundt added that the probes would take into account “whether consumers wishing to use Google’s services have sufficient choice as to how Google will use their data.”

The FCO is running two simultaneous investigations to that end, one against Google Germany, and one against its European HQ in Ireland.

Changes to German competition law has enabled authorities to be more proactive in their scrutiny of tech giants, with the FCO also launching probes into Facebook and Amazon’s business practices in recent months.

The European Union has hit the tech giant with more than $10 billion in fines over the past few years, and launched a further two probes into its advertising practices on the continent earlier this year.

The European Commission has previously fined Google for anti-competitive behaviour three times in as many years: first for $2.7 billion in 2017, again for $5 billion in 2018, and once more for $1.7 billion in 2019. The firm has repeatedly rejected the EU’s findings, however, and met officials in court to appeal the first fine in February 2020.

Insider approached Google for comment.

Are you a current or former Googler with more to share? You can contact this reporter securely using the encrypted messaging app Signal (+447801985586) or email ([email protected]). Reach out using a nonwork device.

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