The Italian cartel office has opened an investigation against Google on suspicion of abuse of market power with regard to online advertising, the agency announced in Rome on Wednesday.

The company’s Italian offices had been inspected by a joint force from the cartel office and financial police on Tuesday, it said in a statement.

According to the cartel office, Google is suspected of having violated EU rules on abuse of a dominant market position in its data collection practices in Italy, which may have weakened competition and affected consumer interests.

The case concerns the decryption of identification data and the collection of data about people who look at online articles and the advertising placed around them.

The authority will investigate whether Google is abusing its technical capabilities and size, estimating that the company’s online advertising revenue in Italy in 2019 will exceed 3.3 billion euros (3.8 billion dollars).

By means of cookies, which store data, advertisers, agencies and advertising brokers could collect important information concerning the consumer decisions of users, the authority explained.

This information could then be used to create personalized campaigns. In addition to this data, Google has several tools that can be used to determine a user’s interest profile.

Asked about the investigations, a Google spokesperson said a part of the issues under scrutiny served to protect people’s privacy, adding that the company would continue to work constructively with the Italian authorities.

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