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US Justice Department Ramps Up Google Maps Investigation

Inquiries into Google’s navigation services by the US Justice Department have reignited, as the question of the tech giant’s software bundles unfairly and illegally suppresses their competitors.

The probe into Google Maps began in late 2020 but died down until the last few months when analysts began looking into the matter again, according to two sources close to the issue.

There are two aspects to the investigation. First off, the Justice Department wants to know if apps built into vehicle infotainment systems prevent use with smaller rival voice assistants. Google bundles their Maps, Play Store, Google Assistant and more into the infotainment systems, which prevent car companies implementing smaller voice assistants.

Google have stated that this is only done to offer users the most streamline experience and that in some cases, voice assistants other than their own can be used with Google Maps and other software.

The second aspect of the inquiry is in regard to the way Google packages their software for websites and apps. Developers who make use of even one element of Google’s software, that they are locked into using only Google features.

Credit: Google

Google once again state that this measure is only to ensure a smooth user experience and preventing possible errors. They have stated that developers are “free to use other mapping services in addition to Google Maps Platform – and many do.”

A Big Tech staff report from 2020 stated that Google’s requirement for developers to use all or none of their software is enforced “aggressively”.

The anonymous developers and sources of this information have expressed their concern that Google are looking to create a monopoly on map data based on their latest privacy options on its Android OS, by limiting data collection of smaller rivals. Furthermore, they also stated that they had both received violation notices from the tech giant, warning them against using both Google services and rival maps, which were often cheaper or less detailed.

Exclusively bundling services together must legally be for the benefit of the consumer rather than purely for company gain.


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