February 5, 2020
Germany has a plan to strengthen anti-competition regulation.
A draft "digital law" would make it easier for German authorities to intervene when they think a tech company is dominating a market.
"There is no other jurisdiction that has proposed such a far-reaching tool for taming the digital giants," Rupprecht Podszun, head of the Institute for Competition Law at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, toldthe Financial Times.
- The new law would allow Germany's Federal Cartel Office to regulate firms of "paramount significance" across markets, not just in a single market.
- The regulator could then stop firms from giving their own services preferential treatment — something that U.S. tech giants have been criticized for (see, for example: Google showing its Shopping results above other price comparison sites, which the EU fined it for in 2017).
- Podszun told the Financial Times that the bill had a "huge" signalling effect. "You could see France and Italy following suit, and the net gradually tightening." Iris Plöger, a member of the executive board of BDI, Germany's leading business lobby, told the newspaper that the law "would make it difficult to create internationally competitive digital companies."
- The bill is not yet law and could still be changed as the government consults with trade bodies. An oral hearing is scheduled for Feb. 18.