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EU puts further pressure on Google to address antitrust concerns

The EU’s Competition Commissioner told reporters in Brussels that Google’s next proposal is its “last opportunity” to address these concerns, or else further action will be taken.

Image: AP Photo/Yves Logghe

GOOGLE IS FACING increased pressure from the EU after it said it must soon provide an improved proposal that addresses its alleged anti-competitive behaviour.

The company, which has a market share of about 90 per cent of internet searches in Europe, has been accused of squeezing out its rivals in its search results.

The EU’s Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told reporters in Brussels that Google next proposal is the “last opportunity” to address these concerns, or it will start its traditional antitrust procedure, which could result in fines worth billions of dollars.

So let’s see if Google can improve their proposal or we go to the traditional route… We need more, not during the next year but during the next [few] weeks

The EU has been investigating Google since 2010. A number of rivals, including Microsoft, made a formal complaint to the European Commission regulators saying that Google had abused its dominant position in the market for web search services.

The company was accused of giving preference to its own services at the top of results pages, especially when consumers are likely to be searching for something to buy. The company had proposed measures to address these concerns back in October but these were rejected by the EU.

Google’s practices have been the subject of a number of investigations in Europe. Back in December, it was fined €900,000 by the Spanish Data Protection Agency for “serious violations” of users’ privacy. It said the company had illegally processed personal data obtained from users of various services such as Gmail.

Authorities in Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, and Britain are currently carrying out their own investigations against the company.

(Additional reporting by Associated Press)

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Quinton O'Reilly

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