European commission announces antitrust charges against Google
On Wednesday, the union accused Google of cheating competition by distorting internet search results in favour of its own Google shopping service.
The inquiry will focus on the accusations that Google has unfairly used its products to overthrow competitors. The commission has also launched an antitrust probe into Google’s Android operating system.
Competition commissioner Magrethe Vestager stated: “I am concerned that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service, in breach of EU antitrust rules,” she said. “If the investigation confirmed our concerns, Google would have to face the legal consequences and change the way it does business in Europe.”
The European commission has been under pressure to investigate Google’s activities, as competitors – including Microsoft, say that the organisation has abused its 90% market share and is using its products to illegally promote its other services.
There is a wide history of technical corporations encouraging the EC to investigate competitors. For example, Microsoft was once accused of abusing its majority share by Sun Microsystems. In this case, similar to the accusations against Google, Microsoft was fined €497m.
Prasad Krishnamurthy, assistant professor of law at Berkeley Law told The Guardian that “The other power that the EC has is that they can put into place equitable remedies, conduct remedies, that would substantially hamper Google’s business practices. In some sense, they might be more worried about that than otherwise – to the extent that this messes with the search businesses, which offers advertisers revenue, it will affect their business model substantially.”
Google has currently not responded to The Guardian for comment.