Anonymous complainants have thrown more fuel on the antitrust fire. Additional complaints have reportedly been filed against Google with European regulators. According to Reuters, the total number of complaints now comes to nine.
Previously there were four formal complaints before the European Commission:
The “new” complaints are not substantively described but they’re probably consistent with allegations that have been made in one or more of the four original complaints. The post Googleopoly: The Definitive Guide To Antitrust Investigations Against Google offers a broad survey and roundup of the full range of complaints against the search engine — foreign and domestic.
When the formal antitrust inquiry was announced last November the European Commission issued this statement about the nature and focus of its investigation:
The Commission will investigate whether Google has abused a dominant market position in online search by allegedly lowering the ranking of unpaid search results of competing services which are specialised in providing users with specific online content such as price comparisons (so-called vertical search services) and by according preferential placement to the results of its own vertical search services in order to shut out competing services. The Commission will also look into allegations that Google lowered the ‘Quality Score’ for sponsored links of competing vertical search services. The Quality Score is one of the factors that determine the price paid to Google by advertisers.
The Commission’s probe will additionally focus on allegations that Google imposes exclusivity obligations on advertising partners, preventing them from placing certain types of competing ads on their web sites, as well as on computer and software vendors, with the aim of shutting out competing search tools. Finally, it will investigate suspected restrictions on the portability of online advertising campaign data to competing online advertising platforms.
The additional complaints don’t make a violation or finding of liability against Google more likely. The Reuters report says, however, if there is a finding of liability the Commission “can fine companies up to 10 percent of their global turnover for breaching EU rules.”
That would represent at least $3 billion at current revenue levels.
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