Google Maps under probe for anti-competitive practices in Europe

(IANS) Germany’s competition regulator on Tuesday initiated a proceeding against Google and its parent company Alphabet to examine possible anti-competitive behaviour by Google Maps against rival map services providers.

The probe by the Federal Cartel Office (FCO) against Google Maps is initiated under tougher abuse laws which have applied to Google’s business in Germany since January this year.

“We have information to suggest that Google may be restricting the combination of its own map services with third-party map services, for example when it comes to embedding Google Maps location data, the search function or Google Street View into maps not provided by Google,” Andreas Mundt, President of the FCO in a statement.

“We will now examine whether this practice could allow Google to further expand its position of power regarding certain map services,” Mundt added.

Under the new tougher laws, the authority can prohibit companies of paramount significance for competition across markets from engaging in anti-competitive practices.

“We will also look into the licensing terms and conditions for the use of Google’s map services in vehicles. We are also conducting or have already concluded further proceedings against Google and other large digital companies like Apple, Amazon and Meta/Facebook,” the FCO informed.

Google Maps Platform offers access to several map services. Applications of these services include embedding the maps into third-party websites, for example to show the locations of shops or hotels.

The preliminary assessment by the FCO is that Google restricts in particular the possibility to combine Google’s map services with third-party maps. “This practice could impair competition in the area of map services. The fact that Google makes the use of its services in vehicle infotainment systems subject to very strict terms of use applicable to its ‘Google Automotive Services’ could restrict competition even further,’ the German watchdog noted.

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