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After a complaint filed by Nextcloud on behalf of a coalition of dozens of European cloud tech providers in November 2021, the German Bundeskartellamt (federal antitrust authorities) has now begun an official investigation into Microsoft to assess if the company has a dominant position in the market.
We welcome this development, as this is a first step towards investigating the anti-competitive behavior of Microsoft with regard to OneDrive bundling and other gatekeeping actions. Rapid developments in AI only serve to strengthen the need for oversight, as the Bundeskartellamt itself also points out.
Since the initial complaint to the European Commissions’ Directorate-General for Competition, Microsoft has continued to limit on the freedom of choice for consumers. Bundling of software with its operating system continues to expand, while on-premises solutions are eliminated, decreasing the control organisations have over their data. Microsofts’ influence on openAI has already resulted in a decrease in openness about AI research, coinciding with Microsoft firing its ethics team, increasing societal risks regarding artificial intelligence. While Nextcloud has responded to these developments, introducing a Microsoft SharePoint migration service to enable organisations to keep data on-premises, and introducing an Ethical AI solution with integration across its products, anti-competitive behavior limits access of customers to these services.
With even a well-known comedian like John Oliver addressing the challenges with big tech, there is growing awareness. But real action still has not been taken and the tech giants continue to push out the competition by all means available to them.
Dozens of European SMEs organisations support these efforts to push back against Big Tech and create a level playing field, supporting innovation and local (European) businesses. A full list of these companies as well as non-profits and industry consortia can be found on https://antitrust.nextcloud.com.