Google Receives Formal “Statement of Objections” from Europe

By: George Hancock Jr.  |  April 15, 2015

Shortly after Google responded to legal threats from the E.U. with an internal email, they lost the first battle in the antitrust war between them and Europe. Margrethe Vestager, the Competition Comissioner of the European Union, has confirmed that Google’s search shopping comparison service unfairly promotes its own products over those of others. Google has 10 weeks to issue a response to Vestager’s statement of objections, which enumerates problems primarily with shopping, travel, and hotel search results.

Besides accusing Google of promoting their own goods before others’, the E.U. says there is too much pressure on advertisers to use Google AdWords and avoid other advertising options. However, the most recent statement of objections focuses on shopping. The main argument is that Google is so dominant already, yet it still favors its own ads and products in search results, which is an abuse of power. Vestager says she wants to “to work with principles that can be futureproofed”.  She clarifies that she does not want to edit Google’s algorithm, she just wants to ensure “that consumers are certain to see the best comparison shopping results.” She went on to say that “dominant companies have a responsibility not to abuse their powerful market position by restricting competition.”

Vestager plans to make a statement, if necessary, about the Android operating system soon. Nokia, Microsoft, and Oracle; Nokia being the native European company of the three, have begun using aggressive measures against Google.  They operate the Fair Search website, which attempts to explain how Google’s practices are unfair. They say Android is just another weapon in Google’s arsenal, allowing them to dominate the market.

Europe has unhappily accepted Google’s dominance in its market over the past five years and many are hoping the objections will result in a better chance to compete in their own regions.

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