Italy’s competition watchdog probes Google over data portability

MILAN (Reuters) -Italy’s competition authority AGCM said on Thursday it had launched an investigation against Google for suspected abuse of its dominant position in data portability, an accusation the Alphabet unit denied.

The watchdog said in a statement that Google allegedly hindered interoperability with other platforms, particularly with Weople, an app by Italian operator Hoda, which could “constrain the economic benefits that consumers can derive from their data” and limit competition.

The competition regulator carried out inspections on Wednesday at Google premises along with Italy’s finance police, it said in a statement.

Google said it had been offering people the possibility of extracting and transferring their data for almost ten years.

“These are tools designed to help people manage their personal information, and not give other companies or intermediaries access to more data to sell,” a group spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Giving such access, it said, would mean “putting people’s privacy at risk, as well as encouraging fraudulent activities. There are already ways for companies to increase direct portability of data in their services.”

Under Italian law, Google faces a fine of up to 10% of its annual global sales if found guilty of abusing its position.

(Reporting by Elvira Pollina, editing by Giulia Segreti and Nick Macfie)