Google accused of anti-competitive behaviour by EU
Google has been formally accused of abusing its dominant position to promote its own interests by the European Commission, including breaching competition rules by giving prominence to Google Shopping results over other links in relevant searches. Further allegations have also been made regarding the prominence given to YouTube, Google Maps, Google+ and other Google owned services in search engine results.
The EU competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, has stated that their responsibility is to ensure companies do not deny European consumers as wide a choice as possible through artificial means, which Google are accused of doing by giving preferential treatment to their own services. These accusations follow a five year investigation into the company after antitrust allegations were made against Google by Microsoft, Tripadvisor, Streetmap and other companies.
Google themselves have rejected the allegations that the Shopping service harms competition and consumers, claiming that there is “a ton of competition – including from Amazon and eBay” and they have not been harmed by Google’s activity.
A separate investigation has also been launched by the European Commission into Google’s Android operating system after complaints that they are hindering manufacturers from developing alternative versions of the open source software, and also incentivising manufacturers to pre-install Google’s own apps and services while excluding rival’s products.
Google have been given ten weeks to respond to these accusations, and could be fined up to ten percent of their global turnover, estimated to be over £4billion. While this matter will potentially take years to resolve, a ruling against Google could also impact heavily on their own advertising strategy and how search results are served.