The European Commission has slapped a “high priority” label on its anti-trust investigations into Google’s actions.
There are currently three separate EU probes concerning Google and each one is important, Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told The Wall Street Journal.
“I do not think of it as one Google case but literally as different investigations and different cases,” Vestager said. “What they have in common is that the name Google appears in each one, but apart from that they are very different.”
Vestager filed formal charges against Google in April, saying the tech titan manipulates search results to favor its comparison-shopping service.
The Commission accused Google of suppressing competition and hurting consumers due to the “unfair advantage” it gives its own comparison shopping service.
This case “is about misuse of a dominant position, to promote yourself in a neighboring market not on your merits but because you can,” she said.
She also launched a formal anti-trust probe back in April to determine if Google is using its Android operating system to dominate the mobile market.
The 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 Commission also plans to investigate similar accusations about Google’s map and travel features, she said.
The process is slow, she said, due to the varying nature and information pertaining to each investigation.
“The shopping case may have similarities when we eventually look at maps and travel and a number of other related services, because the complaints sort of tell the same story,” she said. “People feel or experience that they are either being demoted, or Google preferences its own services. But there is no such thing as you have done one, you’ve done them all. You can’t do that. On the other hand, if you look at the shopping case then there will be insights that will probably also be valid when it comes to other neighboring markets. But it’s a very, very fine balance, because we cannot do one case and then say the rest is the same. In a union of law and with due process, this cannot be the case.”
If Google and the EU cannot reach a settlement in the cases, then the tech giant will be looking at massive fines and restrictions on its behavior.
Vestager took over the case against from Joaquin Almunia when his term ended last fall. The Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, began probing Google’s search methods in November of 2010.