Europe still thumb-twiddling over Google search 'cooking' antitrust complaint

Summary:European antitrust authorities are still considering whether to bring a formal complaint against Google for search 'cooking'

European antitrust regulators are still deciding on whether a formal complaint against Google should be filed, as more come forward to accuse the search giant of discriminating against its rivals.

Joaquin Almunia, the European competition commissioner, said in a statement on the European Parliament's website dated yesterday: "The commission is to date not in a position to say whether its investigation will lead to issuing a statement of objections".

"A thorough assessment of the several categories of allegations of infringements of competition rules brought forward by several complainants is necessary", he added.

The European Commission's antitrust unit is examining whether Google placed competitor's search results lower than others, and blocked some websites from accepting rival advertisements.

Microsoft, along with others, have asked the European Commission to look into Google's practices, alleging that the search giant 'cooks' its search results to favour its own over others.

Bloomberg reports that the Association of Spanish Newspaper Publishers is the latest to complain to regulators about Google's practices. Speaking just before Christmas, it wrote to the Commission to raise concerns that it used news content without paying for it.

But though the European Commission has not formally announced whether it will lodge a complaint, reports last month suggested that Google would be in for a rough time with the authorities.

Late last year, the Financial Times reported that sources said a "400-page document" will land on Google's chief executive's desk "early next year", detailing Europe's accusations that the search giant abused its dominant position in the market.

If Google is found to be in breach of European antitrust laws, it can be fined up to 10 percent of its annual turnover, thought to be in the region of around $3 billion (€2.24 bn).

Eric Schmidt, Google's chairman, who also had to sit through a number of Senate committees on a parallel matter in the U.S., was in Brussels, home of the European Parliament, late last year.

Apple, along with a number of e-book publishers, is being investigated also by the European antitrust authorities for alleged "cartel" practices.

Related:

Topics: Cloud, Apps, Enterprise Software, Google, Security

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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