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Tech Companies In German Crosshairs Over Competition Fears

 |  February 4, 2020

Germany’s government has proposed a clampdown on anti-competitive behaviour by digital platforms, putting Berlin in the vanguard of European efforts to regulate companies including Google and Amazon, reported The Financial Times.  

The draft “digital law” will strengthen the intervention powers of Germany’s competition watchdog, the Federal Cartel Office. Peter Altmaier, the economy minister, said the measures would “toughen control of abusive practices for big market-dominating digital companies”. 

“There is no other jurisdiction that has proposed such a far-reaching tool for taming the digital giants,” said Rupprecht Podszun, head of the Institute for Competition Law at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. 

Germany’s bill is part of a broader “techlash” as governments consider ways to limit the economic and social power of the tech giants and public disquiet grows about the potential threats they pose to competition, privacy and civil liberties.

The bill would make it easier for the cartel office to establish whether companies dominate a particular market. The agency would then be able to prohibit such platforms from “self-preferencing”, that is, giving preferential treatment to their own products or services to the detriment of those provided by rivals.