Google is facing a major setback.
On Wednesday, the European Commission accused Google of antitrust violations. They released a statement saying that the tech giant is abusing its search engine dominance to favor its own comparison shopping services over their rivals.
The news comes after a five-year investigation and more than two dozen antitrust complaints (in Europe) against the company. EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has announced the charges in Brussels, she said:
The European Commission has sent a statement of objections to Google alleging the company has abused its dominant position in the markets for general Internet search services in the European Economic Area by systematically favoring its own comparison shopping product in its general search results pages. The Commission’s preliminary view is that such conduct infringes EU antitrust rules because it stifles competition and harms consumers.
The Commission is also set to probe Google’s Android mobile software.
Google then releases an internal memo to its employees addressing the alleged charges, claiming that online competition is thriving.
We have a very strong case, with especially good arguments when it comes to better services for users and increased competition:
Better services for users: Google Search has improved tremendously since the days of ten blue links. We can now answer many queries directly, saving users huge amounts of time and effort –whether it’s the weather, directions to the local pharmacy, flights, or where to get the cheapest camera.
Increased competition: The competition is just one click away — and it’s growing. People can use Bing, Yahoo, Quora, DuckDuckGo, and a new wave of search assistants like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, as well as more specialized services like Amazon, Idealo, Le Guide, Expedia, or eBay. In addition, users increasingly turn to social networks like Facebook and Twitter to find news and suggestions — where to eat or which movies to watch.
Competition online is thriving — despite what many of the complainants in this case allege. Indeed if you look at shopping, it’s clear that there’s a ton of competition (including from Amazon and eBay) that has not been harmed by Google’s own shopping service.
The company was given ten days to respond to the charges and faces fine that could exceed $6 billion.
This news was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.