Reports: EU taking first step towards breaking up Google

A proposed motion in the European Parliament could put pressure on EU authorities

Members of the European Parliament are readying a motion calling for the break-up of Google, by separating its search engine functionality from other commercial services, according to news reports.

A draft resolution calling for the break-up should be finalized early next week, with a vote potentially on Thursday, according to a report from The Financial Times. While the European Parliament has no formal power to break up the company, a vote to split Google could put pressure on the European Commission, the EU's executive body.

The motion is backed by several German politicians and by the Parliament's two largest political blocs, the European People's Party and the Socialists, according to the newspaper. The Reuters news agency also reported on the plan.

A Google spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a request for comments about the proposed break-up motion.

Google currently faces a long-running antitrust investigation in the EU. Google and the EU's previous antitrust commissioner, Joaquín Almunia, agreed to a set of terms back in February, but after complaints from online publishers and other groups, the commission demanded more concessions from Google.

Consumer Watchdog, a consumer rights group and long-time Google critic, applauded the move. "This is exactly what needs to happen," John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project director, said by email. "Search should be separated from Google's other businesses. We called for this back in 2010 and the need to do this has become even clearer as Google's power has increased."

In 2010, the group called on the U.S. Department of Justice to split Google's search service from other lines of business.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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Tags governmentregulationinternetGooglelegalsearch enginese-commerceantitrusteuropean commissionEuropean ParliamentConsumer WatchdogJohn SimpsonJoaquín Almunia

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Grant Gross

IDG News Service
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