The European Union made a huge move against Google today. The EU sent Google a list of Antitrust Charges that the company will have time to respond to.
The charges state that Google skewed search results unfairly in favor of its Google Shopping service, and that the company did other things that the EU finds unfair. This is one of the biggest charges against Google since the company’s inception.
For some time now, the EU has been working on a case against Google. Now, those charges have finally come to fruition, and Google will have to figure out a way to appease the EU in order to escape those charges. The Union has found that Google uses its services unfairly to promote other services (namely Google search engine to promote Google shopping and other services that the company owns).
Previously, Google has stated that anyone not happy with how the company runs its search engine can simply go elsewhere, but that’s not likely to happen. As EU representatives have pointed out, finding another search engine that’s not Google isn’t so easy to do, and it’s also unrealistic to ask people to do so.
Bargaining May Not Work
Google can attempt to bargain with the EU and settle these disputes out of court, but that may not work this time. If the EU finds that Google is not to be trusted (and that’s the way it’s leaning), Google won’t be able to settle with the EU. The EU feels that Google’s practices are currently anticompetitive, the company won’t stand a chance settling out of court, and will have to litigate.
Previously, the EU has charged Microsoft with similar charges, and Microsoft did wind up paying a hefty fine. But Google is a bigger fish, and it’s one that many tech companies in Europe are largely against. The problem here is that Google shouldn’t be able to monopolize the search engine industry while also promoting its products through search. If Google is going to be the sole search provider, the company has to play fairly.
The Google Argument
Even though Google has managed to climb to the top of the search engine charts, the company argues that they did so fairly. At the end of the day, Google is a business, and that business is in the business of making money - just like any other company. It’s within Google’s best interests to promote its own products, that’s how a company makes money. It can also be seen, though, as unfair to other tech companies that want a chance at showing up in Google listings or competing where search is concerned.
The EU has just handed its list of charges to Google today, and the company has a set amount of time to respond to those charges. Right now, it’s not looking like Google will be able to simply pay a find and move on. It seems as though the EU is serious about stopping Google’s anti-competitive operations. Google hasn’t commented on this story yet, but will likely release a statement this week.