German Cabinet Takes Aim At Big Tech’s Internet Dominance

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Big Tech’s battles with European regulators continue to grow.

The German cabinet on Wednesday (Sept. 9) approved draft legislation that would expand the powers of the country’s Federal Cartel Office to regulate companies that dominate the internet economy, Bloomberg reported. The proposal would, specifically, authorize the regulatory agency to act if marketplace platforms take the data they collect and use it to undermine competitors, such as small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

“It’ll help many middle-sized companies, but above all benefit millions of consumers by helping them gauge digital offers better and take decisions without being influenced,” Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said, per the news outlet.

The news comes as the European Commission said on Tuesday (Sept. 8) that its agency for antitrust policies was looking at rewriting the rules regarding internet sales and distribution platforms.

Last week, Andreas Mundt, Germany’s top antitrust regulator, told reporters he is watching the battle between Apple and Fortnite developer Epic Games over access to Apple’s App Store “with great interest.”

He noted there are only two major app stores globally: the one run by Apple and the other by Google Play. “Every developer on this planet who produces an app needs to pass through their gates — that’s indeed interesting, to put it cautiously,” he said.

The fight with Epic took off last month when the game developer launched a payment platform that allowed users to go around the App Store and avoid the 30 percent commission the tech giant charges.

For its part, the European Commission said the need for an update in antitrust regulations is particularly “due to the growth of online sales and of new market players, such as online platforms.”

“The market has significantly changed, and (our) evaluation has identified a number of issues that need to be addressed,” said European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy. The goal, she said Monday in a press release, is “to ensure that the rules remain fit for a world that is increasingly digital and changing at a fast pace.”

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