Skip to content
Competition policy, political power and achieving digital sovereignty

Competition Policy, Political Power and Achieving Digital Sovereignty 

Recently, the European Commission’s accusations against Google have sparked significant concerns regarding the tech giant’s alleged violation of EU competition law. As countries strive to harness the potential of technology, a dispute has emerged surrounding competition, political power, and the pursuit of digital sovereignty. In this article, we will delve into the complexities of antitrust allegations and explore the implications for organisations as nations strive for control over their digital future.  

Understanding the Antitrust Allegations

The EU’s antitrust charges against Google stem from an investigation that began several years ago. The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, has been closely scrutinising Google’s business practices since 2010. The investigation initially focused on three main areas: Google’s dominance in online search, its control over online advertising, and its alleged preferential treatment of its services in search results. 

Search Engine Dominance   

Google’s search engine holds a commanding market share in Europe, with an estimated 90% of all internet searches. The EU alleges that Google has abused its dominant position by giving preferential treatment to its services in search results, disadvantaging competitors and limiting consumer choice.  

Advertising Market Control

Google’s advertising platform, which generates a significant portion of the company’s revenue, has also been scrutinised. It has been favouring AdSense over competitors since at least 2014 by giving preferential placement to bids from AdSense during the auction process. This advantage has allowed the exchange to charge higher fees from buyers, harming competing providers and limiting consumer choice.  

Pre-installed Android Apps  

Google’s Android operating system is widely used on smartphones and tablets globally. The EU asserts that Google has engaged in anti-competitive behaviour by imposing restrictions on device manufacturers, requiring them to pre-install Google apps and services, thereby limiting consumer choice and hindering competition in the mobile market.  

The Implications for Organisations 

Google and Data Sovereignty

Antitrust laws have significant implications for organisations across various sectors. Here, we examine some key areas where businesses need to be attentive and adaptable: 

1. Data Structure and Management

As organisations collect and analyse vast amounts of data, they must ensure their data practices align with antitrust regulations. Data sharing and interoperability can be subject to scrutiny, particularly when it comes to collaborations between competitors. To comply with antitrust law, organisations may need to adopt flexible data structures that promote transparency and fair competition while protecting consumer privacy. 

2. Regulatory Compliance

Staying compliant with antitrust regulations is crucial for organisations to avoid legal repercussions and reputational damage. It is essential to closely monitor changes in laws and seek legal counsel to ensure ongoing compliance. This involves understanding the specific rules and thresholds within the jurisdiction(s) in which the organisation operates and implementing robust compliance programs.  

3. Governance and Risk Management 

Effective governance and risk management frameworks play a vital role in ensuring compliance with antitrust law. Organisations should establish clear policies and procedures that promote ethical behaviour, fair competition and prevent antitrust violations. Regular training programs can help employees understand the implications of antitrust law and recognise potential risks within their roles.  

4. Mergers and Acquisitions 

Antitrust law closely scrutinises mergers and acquisitions to prevent the concentration of market power. Organisations contemplating such activities should conduct thorough due diligence to assess potential antitrust concerns. In some cases, obtaining regulatory approvals or implementing certain divestitures may be necessary to address antitrust issues and secure a successful transaction.  

5. Competition Advocacy 

Organisations can actively engage in competition advocacy by participating in public consultations and sharing their expertise and insights. By contributing to the development of antitrust policies and regulations, organisations can help shape a fair and competitive business environment that benefits both businesses and consumers. 

6. International Considerations

Organisations operating on a global scale must also be mindful of antitrust laws in different jurisdictions. These laws can vary significantly, and compliance requirements may differ from one country to another. It is vital to stay informed about the applicable regulations in each market where a business operates and adapt strategies accordingly to ensure compliance with local antitrust laws.   

The Battle for Dominance  

At the heart of the dispute lies the battle for dominance among global tech giants, each vying for supremacy in the digital arena. Companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple have amassed immense power and influence, shaped entire industries and exerted considerable control over vast data. Their dominance has sparked concerns about monopolistic practices, stifling competition, and compromising user privacy.   

Governments, especially those of major economies, have become increasingly wary of the influence wielded by these tech behemoths. They are concerned about the potential for economic exploitation, data breaches, and the erosion of national sovereignty in the digital realm. This has led to a push for greater regulation, including antitrust measures and stricter data protection laws, to curb the power of these companies and restore competition.   

Individual organisations also are wary of global tech giants having control of their data. Not all organisations aim to move their data onto the cloud and prefer instead to have their data on servers within their authority.   

Political Power and Influence  

The competition and digital sovereignty dispute have blurred the lines between the public and private sectors. Tech companies have expanded their influence to the point where they can sway public opinion, shape electoral outcomes, and even influence policy decisions. The involvement of these companies in political affairs has raised questions about the accountability of both governments and tech giants.   

Some argue that governments should take a proactive role in reining these companies’ power. In contrast, others advocate for a laissez-faire approach, emphasising the importance of innovation and free-market competition. Striking the right balance between regulation and innovation is daunting, requiring navigating complex legal, ethical, and economic considerations.   

Achieving Digital Sovereignty  

Digital sovereignty refers to a nation’s ability to control its digital infrastructure, data, and technologies. In an increasingly interconnected world, achieving digital sovereignty has become a key objective for many countries. Governments seek to protect citizens’ privacy, secure critical infrastructure, and develop homegrown digital industries.   

One aspect of digital sovereignty is the desire to reduce dependency on foreign tech companies and establish local alternatives. It has led to the emergence of “national champions” in the tech sector, supported by government funding and incentives. The EU, in particular, has been at the forefront of introducing comprehensive regulations to curb anti-competitive practices in the digital realm. Initiatives such as the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA) aim to address unfair competition, data privacy, and platform governance concerns.   


The antitrust allegations against Google and the broader debate on competition, political power, and sovereignty highlight the need for a delicate balance. Governments, organisations, and society must work together to foster a competitive and innovative digital ecosystem while ensuring fair practices and protecting national interests.   

In the pursuit of a digital future that benefits all stakeholders, it is essential to recognise the significance of Data and Workflow management. These technologies enable efficient collaboration, seamless data integration, and automated processes across diverse stakeholders, including governments, organisations, and individuals. By leveraging this architecture, we can optimise the use of data, enhance decision-making capabilities, and drive technological advancements that benefit society as a whole.