EU files antitrust charges against Google over search services

The European Commission also announced it has opened a separate investigation into Google's mobile operating system, Android

The European Commission has charged Google with abusing its dominant position in Internet search services in Europe by systematically favoring its own comparison shopping product, Google Shopping. It also opened an antitrust investigation into Google's Android mobile operating system.

Such conduct infringes EU antitrust rules because it stifles competition and harms consumers, the Commission said Wednesday, adding that it has formally notified Google of the charges in a so-called Statement of Objections. Google now gets a chance to defend itself before the Commission makes a final decision, which could include a fine of up to 10 percent of the company's annual turnover.

The Commission also opened a separate antitrust investigation into the Android mobile OS, centered on concerns about whether Google is compelling licensees to exclusively pre-install its own applications or services, whether its stopping device makers from developing competing versiosn of the OS, and whether its tying or bundling Google applications and services for Android with other Google apps and services.

Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who initiated both actions, said it is the Commission's objective to apply EU antitrust rules to ensure that companies operating in Europe, wherever they may be based, do not stifle innovation or artificially deny European consumers as wide a choice as possible. In the case of Google she said she has concerns that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service, in breach of EU antitrust rules.

The decision to send Google a Statement of Objections is the next step in an antitrust investigation that has been dragging on since November 2010, when the Commission decided to open an inquiry.

The first complaint against Google's alleged abuse of market dominance was filed in November 2009 by Foundem, which offers a vertical search engine for market categories including flights, computers, appliances and hotels. The complaint claimed that Google exploits its overwhelmingly dominant search engine to systematically promote its own specialized services while demoting or excluding those of its competitors. Foundem was later joined by a broad range of other complainants, including Microsoft, Expedia, TripAdvisor and the German Publishers Association.

Google has tried to settle the case several times. In February last year, it proposed to give equal prominence to rivals' services. The Commission seemed willing to take the deal but was slammed by Foundem and other companies, which accused the regulatory body of adopting Google's proposal wholesale without giving complainants an opportunity to express their views on the settlement.

In the following months, the negative reaction from Google's competitors grew and forced the Commission to revise its plans. In September last year, the Commission said it wanted more concessions from Google. This was shortly before Vestager took over from Joaquín Almunia as Competition Commissioner. Since then, Vestager has been talking to all parties again to get an overview of the case.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags antitrustGoogleeuropean commissionlegalinternet

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?