EU Steps Up The Pressure: Pursuing Formal Anti-Trust Investigation Against Google

The European Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation into whether Google abused its market power and position in Europe. A number of complaints have effectively been consolidated in the action, which comes after a preliminary inquiry by the EC. The individual complainants include Microsoft-owned shopping engine Ciao, price comparison site Foundem and French legal site Ejustice.

The EC has been looking into the facts of these cases and has decided there’s sufficient justification to go forward with formal proceedings. According to the release issued by the EC this morning:

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’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 . . . Finally, it will investigate suspected restrictions on the portability of online advertising campaign data to competing online advertising platforms

The EC has legal authority to impose fines and demand other remedies if it finds a violation of anti-trust or unfair competition regulations. Google must take the investigation very seriously. The EC was much tougher on Microsoft, in terms of fines and remedies, than the US was after similar findings of anti-trust violations in both jurisdictions.

European regulators have long expressed frustration and concern over Google’s power and influence in Europe. I believe it’s unlikely, however, that the specific claims against Google at issue here will be vindicated. But I also think it’s equally unlikely that the EC will simply find Google “innocent” or without any blame or culpability in this case.

The EC probably wouldn’t have taken the investigation to this level and made such a public announcement if it weren’t intending to do something. What that is precisely remains to be seen pending the outcome of the investigation.

Google has now posted an official comment on the EC action.

See our related posts:

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: Critics | Google: Legal | Google: Outside US

Sponsored


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



SearchCap:

Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  

Share

Other ways to share:
 

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.

Comments are closed.

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest

 
 

Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States

Europe

Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech


Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!

 


 

Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide