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.

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Facebook stock jumped more than 4% after Mark Zuckerberg said Apple’s privacy update will help the social media giant

Mark Zuckerberg
  • Facebook stock climbed 4.1%, closing at $290.11 on Friday, after Mark Zuckerberg’s comments on Clubhouse.
  • “I’m confident that we’re gonna be able to manage through that situation,” Zuckerberg said on Thursday.
  • The Apple iOS 14 software update allows users to opt-out from being tracked.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Facebook stock climbed 4.1% on Friday after CEO Mark Zuckerberg changed his tune on Apple’s imminent privacy update.

The social media company had been fighting with Apple over the changes for months, but Zuckerberg reversed course this week and said he actually thinks the new policies will help the social media giant. Shares rose following the comments, closing at $290.11 on Friday.

“I think the reality is that I’m confident that we’re gonna be able to manage through that situation, Zuckerberg said in a discussion Thursday on Clubhouse. “And we’ll be in a good position. I think it’s possible that we may even be in a stronger position.”

The Apple iOS 14 software update will require app developers including Facebook to request permission from users before tracking them through Apple’s Identified for Advertisers (IDFA).

“Apple’s changes encourage more businesses to conduct commerce on our platforms, by making it harder for them to basically use their data in order to find the customers that would want to use their products outside of our platforms,” Zuckerberg said during the Clubhouse talk.

Facebook has been pushing back against the Apple iOS update since August. The company said in a blog post that the changes will impact its Audience Network by limiting its ability to deliver targeted advertising, which will slash its revenue on iOS up to 50%.

“This is not a change we want to make, but unfortunately Apple’s updates to iOS 14 have forced this decision. We know this may severely impact publishers’ ability to monetize through Audience Network on iOS 14, and, despite our best efforts, may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14 in the future,” the blog post said in August.

During the Clubhouse discussion, Zuckerberg said that these changes will affect small businesses and developers. “I just think it’s one of the reasons why Facebook has been a bit outspoken on this is, there are certain principles that we care about and empowering individuals is one of them,” he added.

Apple has hit back at Facebook’s criticism, telling Insider’s Isobel Asher Hamilton it was standing up for its users by creating the new privacy features.

“Users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites – and they should have the choice to allow that or not,” an Apple spokesperson said.

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