April 15, 2015
The European Union has officially charged Google with violating anti-trust laws, accusing the tech titan of using its monopoly of the market to give its own products and services prominence over that of its competitors.
In a Statement of Objections sent to the tech titan, the European Commission said Google’s alleged conduct suppresses competition and hurts consumers.
“The Commission’s objective is to apply EU anti-trust rules to ensure that companies operating in Europe, wherever they may be based, do not artificially deny European consumers as wide a choice as possible or stifle innovation,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a press release.
“In the case of Google, I am concerned that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service, in breach of EU anti-trust rules. Google now has the opportunity to convince the Commission to the contrary. However, if the investigation confirmed our concerns, Google would have to face the legal consequences and change the way it does business in Europe.”
Vestager has also launched a formal anti-trust probe into Google’s conduct with mobile operating systems, apps and services.
“Smartphones, tablets and similar devices play an increasing role in many people’s daily lives and I want to make sure the markets in this area can flourish without anticompetitive constraints imposed by any company,” she said.
The Commission’s investigation into Google’s Android OS rules will be to determine if the firm is hindering the development and market access of rival mobile operating systems, applications and services, disadvantaging consumers and developers by cutting off access to “innovative services and products.”
The Statement of Objections is the beginning of a deeper investigation into Google’s business practices. If Google and the EU cannot reach a settlement, the tech giant will be looking at massive fines — at least $6 billion — and restrictions on its behavior.
Vestager took over the case from Joaquin Almunia when his term ended last fall. Vestager announced at that time that she would be going over the case to decide on next steps after the search engine giant’s tentative settlement with the European Commission fell through. EU regulators asked Google for more concessions last September after deciding the agreement did not go far enough to level the search playing field.
Another major deciding factor in rejecting the concessions last fall was the “very, very negative” feedback received from Google’s rivals, which includes the likes of Microsoft, Expedia, Oracle and Nokia. Google competitors said the concessions did not go far enough and, in fact, would only serve to reinforce Google’s search supremacy.
The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, began probing Google’s search methods in November of 2010.
Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.