The European Commission issued a “statement of objections” Thursday, accusing Google of breaching EU antitrust rules by imposing strict contractual terms with its advertising service. The EU is also investigating Google’s shopping service, alleging Google’s comparison shopping and advertising-related practices breach EU rules.
EU’s anti-trust chief Margrethe Vestager said in the statement that, “Google has come up with many innovative products that have made a difference to our lives. But that doesn’t give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate.”
She goes on to explain that the most recent charges “further strengthened our case that Google has unduly favored its own comparison shopping service in its general search result pages. It means consumers may not see the most relevant results to their search queries.”
A Google spokesperson responded to the allegations and said, “We believe that our innovations and product improvements have increased choice for European consumers and promote competition. We’ll examine the commission’s renewed cases and provide a detailed response in the coming weeks.”
The EU has specifically targeted part of its service called AdSense. The accusation is that Google is imposing restrictions on the way third-party websites display search ads from Google’s rivals.
News of the most recent charges come in addition to previous EU charges that the company engages in monopoly abuse by an effort to “crush” rivals to its mobile search service and Android operating system. The European Commission formally charged Google in April with monopoly abuse, stating Google abuses its market dominance to place “unjustified restrictions” on smartphone manufacturers and mobile operators.
In the April charges, the EU is specifically targeting Google’s terms and conditions, which require manufacturers to have the Google Play app store. Google compels its manufacturers to also agree to install the Google search app and Google Chrome web browser. The Obama administration has sided with Google in the past, characterizing the charges as a “campaign against US technology companies driven by economic protectionism.”
The European Commission possesses authority to fine the company up to ten percent of its worth for each separate charge.
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