Cartel Office warns Google’s conditions for data processing
The Bundeskartellamt has long been concerned about the way Google handles user data. Now there is a warning. But are the authorities allowed to say it at all?
According to the Federal Cartel Office, the Google group Alphabet must give its users more options when processing their data. The authority announced on Wednesday that the US group had received a “detailed reasoned warning”.
The Cartel Office is bothered by the way in which the group can collect data for a wide variety of purposes and process it across services for services such as Google Search, YouTube, Google Play, Google Maps and the Google Assistant. On the basis of the current conditions, users do not have a sufficient choice as to whether and to what extent they agree to this extensive processing. With the warning, the company is given the opportunity to comment on the allegations and to present further justifications or proposed solutions.
Experts disagree as to whether the cartel office is responsible for these questions and whether the administrative act is, from a legal point of view, a warning. In its announcement, the authority itself admits that the European Digital Markets Act (DMA), the enforcement of which falls under the exclusive responsibility of the EU Commission, will apply to certain Google services in the future. This would mean that the German authorities would be left out. The Cartel Office said it was in contact with the Commission.
Authority President Andreas Mundt emphasized that Google’s business model is fundamentally based on the processing of user data. “Google has a strategic advantage over other companies here due to the established access to relevant data from a very large number of different services. Google must be measured against the requirements of the new competition regulations for digital companies. The company must give users sufficient options with regard to consent to the processing of their data.”
Google said the company’s goal is always to offer products that put users first and meet the requirements of regulators. “We are fulfilling our responsibility, among other things, by continuously adapting our services. We will continue to engage in constructive discussions with the Federal Cartel Office and try to dispel the concerns.”