On September 4, an initiative was launched by Germany to prevent the internet giants Google and Facebook from being monopolies. Germany is planning to strengthen the power of its competition before the internet giants could secure the scale. The initiative includes blocking big players from taking over smaller rivals. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition is to curb big US Internet companies. Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said, “My goal is to make our competition law more effective.” 

He said: “In doing so we must find the right balance between the growth chances of German and European platforms and preventing the abuse of market power.”

The initiative could also involve cracking down on attempts to prevent ‘multihoming’. Multihoming is a platform where company requires its business partners to work exclusively with it, not with any of its competitors. 

The German policymakers has a view that European regulators should never have waved through Facebook’s takeover of Instagram in 2012, and of WhatsApp two years later. The head of the Duesseldorf Institute for Competition Economics and a co-author of the study, Justus Haucap said, “Looking back, it’s not clear that it was the right thing to do to allow those deals.” 

This year, Germany’s antitrust watchdog could take action against Facebook after finding it abused its market dominance after gathering data of people without their knowledge or consent. Also, the objection against Facebook acquiring data on people from third-party apps including WhatsApp and Instagram and its online tracking of people is raised by the Federal Cartel Office.

The ‘Data For All’ law which means requiring dominant platform companies to share the data that fuels them is proposed by Andrea Nahles, leader of the Social Democrats that co-rule with Merkel. As per the other lawmaker, dominant platforms should be compelled to open up so that it would be possible to chat with a friend without being a member of it.

Nadine Schoen, a senior lawmaker in Merkel’s conservative party said: “We must support an innovative data policy and talk about new ideas – one would be to require interoperability.” 

Hannah Weber

Hannah Weber  is a seasoned journalist with nearly 10 years experience. While studying journalism at FernUniversität Hagen, Hannah found a passion for finding engaging stories.  As a contributor to Deutch News, Hannah mostly covers human interest pieces.

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