On 17 December 2020, the media authority of the German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein initiated legal proceedings against Google Ireland Ltd. under Germany’s new Interstate Media Treaty (Medienstaatsvertrag – “MStV”, downloadable here, German only).  The authority (Landesmedienanstalt) is investigating whether Google’s treatment of information from a “National Health Portal” offered by the German Federal Ministry of Health (“Health Ministry”) constitutes a violation of the MStV.

Continue Reading Google Knowledge Panels Challenged In Germany

The German Federal States are likely to adopt a new law in 2020, known as the Interstate Media Treaty (Medienstaatsvertrag – “MStV”). The MStV will impose new regulations on firms or technologies that serve as intermediaries to online media services. It will also introduce new rules in other areas, e.g., for online content providers and advertising, but the rules for intermediaries are likely to generate the most interest.

After intense debate and two public consultations, which prompted over 1,200 comments, the prime ministers of the German Federal States agreed on a draft of the new law on December 5, 2019. Because the law also implements certain provisions of the latest revision of the EU Audiovisual Media Directive, which Member States must implement by September 2020, it is expected that the Federal State parliaments will adopt the MStV in the first half of this year. Germany notified the MStV to the EU under Directive 2015/1535 in January, and the European Commission is currently reviewing it.
Continue Reading Germany Likely to Adopt Unique Regulatory Regime for Intermediaries to Media Services

City leaders across the globe are predicted to spend upwards of $41 trillion by 2020 to deploy smart city technologies within their locales. From Toronto to Tokyo, cities are vying to harness the benefits of the Internet of Things (“IOT”) in order to help make their streets safer, transportation more efficient, and their environments greener. While exciting, there are a number of challenges facing cities on their quest to get smart. Resources are scarce, building the required infrastructure is expensive and obtaining the necessary consensus and cooperation amongst municipal stakeholders can be downright impossible. For vendors looking to capitalize on this momentum, learning from successful smart city projects and planning around the common conflicts that tend to arise is crucial. Below are a number of best practices gleaned from the strategies and progress of a number of cities who have found success in implementing smart city solutions.
Continue Reading Covington IoT Update: Best Practices for Outsmarting Common Pitfalls in Smart City Projects

On 6 October 2017, the German Competition Authority (the “FCO”) launched a new series of papers on “Competition and Consumer Protection in the Digital Economy” with its first paper on “Big Data and Competition” (available in German) (the “Paper”). The FCO sets out its view of the specific characteristics of digital, data-based markets, the role data may play in the competitive analysis of such markets and the importance of data protection in competition law proceedings.

The FCO has already considered these issues in its May 2016 joint paper published by the FCO and the French Competition Authority on “Competition Law and Data” (the “Joint Paper”). While this paper does not reflect a significant departure from the Joint Paper, it reaffirms the FCO’s intent to be part of the discussion about the appropriate approach to applying competition law to data in digital markets. In addition to the Joint Paper, the German Monopolies Commission’s report on Digital Markets (June 2015) and the FCO’s Working Paper on Market Power of Platforms and Networks (June 2016) have also considered elements of this issue.


Continue Reading The Bundeskartellamt Publishes a Paper on Big Data and Competition

On 20 March 2017, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (the “Ministry”) published its Digital Platforms White Paper (the “White Paper” and launched a dedicated web portal), reflecting at least in part the results of its consultation on its Green Paper on Digital Platforms. The White Paper sets out several proposals for digital policy to facilitate growth of digital platforms on the basis of fair competition while guaranteeing individuals’ fundamental rights and data sovereignty. The Ministry appears to start from the premise that digital platforms sometimes fall outside the scope of German competition, consumer protection and commercial laws, such that the White Paper seeks to address this perceived enforcement gap.

The White Paper and other related German initiatives come as the European Commission (“EC”) pursues its 2015 Digital Single Market (“DSM”) Strategy for the European Union (including several legislative proposals, a Communication on Online Platforms and a Communication on Data Economy) and a number of other Member States also focus on regulatory issues related to online platforms (e.g., the French investigation of non-search online advertising).

This post summarises some of the key elements of the White Paper.
Continue Reading German Ministry for Economy Publishes a White Paper on Digital Platforms

By Miranda Cole, Jennifer Boudet and Jérôme de Ponsay

With the European Commission’s recent Digital Single Market (“DSM”) Strategy for the European Union (“EU”) announcements (including several legislative proposals and a Communication on Online Platforms and the Digital Market), a number of the Member States are also very active on the issues.

Since the German

Digital markets are currently the focus of much attention in the European Union (“EU”).  The European Commission recently unveiled its Digital Single Market Strategy, which incorporates DG COMP’s e-commerce sector inquiry.

The issue of the regulation of digital markets, potentially beyond the application of competition law, is also being discussed at national level.  On 1 June 2015, the German Monopolies Commission (“MC”) published its report on digital markets (“Competition Policy: The challenge of digital markets”), with a summary in English.  Generally, the MC takes the position that there is no need for a significant modification of the current legal framework, but suggests increased enforcement of the rules.  In an interesting coincidence of timing, Commissioner Vestager recently expressed caution about adopting new regulation of online platforms that might be overtaken by market developments.  This post provides an overview of the key elements of the MC report.
Continue Reading German Monopolies Commission Publishes its Report on Digital Markets

Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager announced today during a speech at the Bundeskartellamt (German Competition Authority) International Conference on Competition her intention to launch a sector inquiry in the e-commerce sector. The sector inquiry will be formally proposed to the Commission in May. Preliminary findings on the sector inquiry could be ready in mid-2016. Commissioner Vestager stressed:

It is high time to remove remaining barriers to e-commerce, which is a vital part of a true Digital Single Market in Europe. The envisaged sector inquiry will help the Commission to understand and tackle barriers to e-commerce to the benefit of European citizens and business.


Continue Reading EU Announces E-Commerce Sector Inquiry