European Parliament Continue to Investigate Google’s Antitrust CaseAdded: Saturday, December 6th, 2014
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Media reports reveal that the European parliament is going to call for a break-up of Google in a drastic escalation of the antitrust case against the company. A draft motion leaked by some newspapers and expected to be agreed in a few days offers “unbundling [of] search engines from other commercial services” as a potential solution to Google’s dominance in Europe.
The EC has been long investigating concerns that the most popular search engine in the region has been abusing its dominant position in search since 2010. A couple months ago, the EU’s incoming digital commissioner claimed that in case of accepting any settlement from Google, this would cement its strength in the market instead of diluting it.
Politicians of many countries, including Germany, France and Spain, have attacked the company over a number of questions, which included revelations from the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and “right to be forgotten” rule which allows people to remove data from search results.
The former EU’s competition commissioner has previously rejected the third attempt of the search giant to settle the antitrust case two months ago after political support for the deal collapsed. After this, he reopened the inquiry on the basis of negative comments from complainants. As for his successor, she had to admit that the issue is too complicated to make a decision so fast, and she will need some time to decide on the next steps.
In the meantime, the Germany’s economy minister suggested a break-up of the company this past spring, and suggested regulation seems to him to be a better move. Germany recognized that they should give serious thought to the possibility of “unbundling” the online market, in a similar way to the electricity and gas networks.
The investigation against Google is supported by its rival Microsoft (though the latter faced its own antitrust cases in the 1990s), German publisher Axel Springer and a number of smaller rivals that claim that the company continues to squeeze them out of the market. German publisher Axel Springer pointed out that Google accounts for a 91.2% share of the search-engine market in Germany and called the EU parliament for restrictions on Google. The only problem with the latest suggestion is that the European parliament lacks the authority to force a break-up of a company. In addition, any such proposal would undoubtedly meet stiff opposition from Google and the US.
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