Berlin (dpa) - With an amendment to the law, the federal government wants to give the antitrust authorities more powers to control large digital companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon.
On Wednesday, the cabinet approved a draft by Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) for a reform of the Act against Restraints of Competition (GWB).
Accordingly, the Bundeskartellamt should be able to take action against distortions of competition more easily in the future if market-dominant digital companies exploit their position.
For example, it should be ensured that the Internet giants do not offer their products on their own platforms in a privileged way over products from competitors.
Antitrust proceedings are to be accelerated so that the authorities can ensure fair competition more quickly.
The amendment also provides for a revision of the merger controls so that the Federal Cartel Office should concentrate on relevant mergers.
Mergers of medium-sized companies should only be subject to control if all companies involved in Germany have at least an annual turnover of ten million euros instead of the previous five million.
Altmaier described the amendment to the law as a "milestone".
The reform will "benefit many medium-sized companies".
Above all, however, it will “help millions of consumers to orientate themselves, especially when it comes to digital offers, and to make decisions without being influenced”.
The Federal Cartel Office recently called for more options to control large digital groups.
"We are pleased that the legislative process is now progressing," said the Cartel Office President Andreas Mundt.
The draft law contains important additions, for example with regard to the handling of large Internet platforms.
"This will put us in a position to be able to intervene more effectively and faster in the future when large platforms endanger competition," said Mundt.
Most recently, the Bonn competition watchdogs accused Facebook of abusing its dominant position for inadmissible contractual conditions for users and of distorting competition.
The authority had issued a corresponding order against which Facebook took action at the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court and which has not yet been finally decided.
The Federation of German Industries (BDI) is critical of the planned tightening of abuse control: "With the law, Germany would not promote the formation of internationally competitive digital companies," said Iris Plöger, member of the executive board.
The planned tightening would not only affect large foreign digital companies, but also smaller companies in Germany if they wanted to open up new markets.
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