EU files antitrust charges against Google

— 10:57 AM on April 15, 2015

The European Union is concerned that Google is abusing its dominant position in the European search market by engaging in anticompetitive practices. As a result, Margrethe Vestager, the EU's antitrust regulator,  has filed formal charges against the search giant, according to this European Commission press release.

The European Commission's allegations focus on the Google Shopping price-comparison tool, which Google is said to be prioritizing in its search results to the possible detriment of its competitors. The EC believes Google may not be displaying the most relevant search results to users of its service, and it wants Google to treat price comparison results from rival services in the same way as results from its own services.

For its part, Google doesn't believe its practices are anti-competitive—just the opposite, in fact. In a post on the company's blog, Amit Singhal, the senior vice president of Google Search, made the following statement:

Indeed if you look at shopping -- an area where we have seen a lot of complaints and where the European Commission has focused in its Statement of Objections -- it’s clear that (a) there’s a ton of competition (including from Amazon and eBay, two of the biggest shopping sites in the world) and (b) Google’s shopping results have not the harmed the competition.

The EU's antitrust concerns don't end with Google's price-comparison tools, either. According to a separate press release, the European Commission will be investigating the relationships between Google and Android handset manufacturers for anti-competitive practices, as well.

That investigation is based on three basic concerns: one, whether Google's bundling of its own software and services with Android is exclusionary to competitors; two, whether the company has stifled competition by preventing devices makers from creating their own forks of the Android OS; and three, whether Google is hindering "development and market access of rival applications" by tying its own applications into other Google applications, services, or APIs.

Google also responded to this announcement on its blog, an excerpt of which is below:

The Android model has let manufacturers compete on their unique innovations. Developers can reach huge audiences and build strong businesses. And consumers now have unprecedented choice at ever-lower prices. We look forward to discussing these issues in more detail with the European Commission over the months ahead.

We'll be keeping an eye on these proceedings as they play out. 

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