Margrethe Vestager, EU antitrust chief and bane of tech giants, has given her seal of approval to U.S. antitrust action against Facebook Inc.
She told lawmakers in Brussels that the The American trial shows how the technological superpowers are increasingly coming under greater scrutiny around the world. Minutes after his speech on Thursday, German regulators launched a new antitrust investigation into Facebook’s Oculus virtual reality headsets.
“This is a sign that the debate over technological dominance has evolved over the past two years,” Vestager said of the US antitrust movement in an online meeting with EU lawmakers. “You see this in almost every jurisdiction. You see it in Canada and Australia ”as well as in the recent American case against Google.
The British Competition and Markets Authority even proposed this week a specialized technology regulator with increased power to block transactions.
EU regulators are planning tougher rules on so-called internet gatekeepers next week, which “will allow us to be much faster” to take action against companies that violate potential new rules on how they deal small competitors, she said.
Vestager, who slapped Alphabet Inc. Google with huge fines, said complaints filed by the US Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general take a different approach than the EU. She said her research on advertising was “not as advanced”.
The German antitrust authority, known as the Bundeskartellamt, opened an investigation on Thursday into Facebook because using the latest Quest 2 virtual reality glasses from Oculus requires a Facebook account. Oculus was previously operated separately from Facebook, he said, and existing Oculus accounts can no longer be used for new hardware.
“We intend to examine whether and to what extent this tied selling agreement will affect competition,” the chairman of the authority, Andreas Mundt, said in an emailed press release.
Oculus devices are currently not sold in Germany, a Facebook spokesperson said. The company “will cooperate fully with the Bundeskartellamt and is convinced that we can demonstrate that there is no basis for the investigation.”
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