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Germany uses new law to double down on Meta

German regulators have been investigating Meta’s VR division for antitrust violations since 2020.

Germany on May 4 classified Meta as a company of "paramount significance for competition across markets," giving the country's antitrust watchdog more powers to rein in any anticompetitive behaviour by the owner of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. The decision was made by Germany's cartel office Bundeskartellamt based on powers given by the new Section 19a of the German Competition Act introduced in early 2021. Under the new provision, any company declared to be of “paramount significance for competition across markets” will be prohibited from certain specified practices and the designated company carries the burden of proving the practice’s pro-competitive effects. Meta now joins Google, which the Bundeskartellamt has already classified to be of paramount significance across markets. Meta has decided not to appeal the decision, the authority said. "The validity of the Bundeskartellamt’s decision is limited to five years after its entry into force in accordance with statutory provisions. Within this period Meta is subject to special abuse control by the Bundeskartellamt in Germany as set out in Section 19a(2) GWB," the authority noted. Why has Meta been given this new classification? Meta is constantly expanding: Meta already has Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus (now Meta Quest), and the "internationally active digital corporation" continues to expand its range of services, the office noted. Leading provider of social media advertising: "Meta’s services are used by more than 3.5 billion people worldwide. Its services are also widely used in Germany. Owing to its large user base and the user data available to the company, Meta is also…

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