Google not off the hook in Europe as EC reveals litany of antitrust complaints

Google not off the hook in Europe as EC reveals litany of antitrust complaints

Summary: As one probe closes, another probe opens?

TOPICS: Government, Google, Legal, EU

With one antitrust case nearly behind it in Europe, several more may yet be about to open for Google.

Google has been the subject of a European antitrust investigation lasting several years into its search and advertising practices. In February, the EC's competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia announced the company had finally come up with a package of measures to address the abuse of its dominance of the search market in Europe.

Now, according to Almunia, the Commission has sent out letters to those behind the initial complaints about Google. The so-called pre-rejection letters detail how the EC believes the settlement solves competition concerns.

Once they've received the pre-rejection letters, complainants will then be able to offer their feedback on the settlement, and state whether they believe it goes far enough.

"This means that the Commission is currently in listening mode and will carefully review all the responses we will receive" over the coming weeks, Almunia told the Chatham House Competition Policy Conference on Monday. Based on the feedback, the EC will then decide whether the settlement needs to be revisisted.

Almunia admitted that some of Google's proposed remedies have already proved unpopular. Nonetheless, the commissioner appears to believe the case will soon be put to bed, saying: "This means that the current investigation is probably drawing to an end, but I suspect this case is only the beginning of further EU antitrust enforcement in the digital economy."

Almunia said the EC is gathering information into several other antitrust matters relating to Google, including complaints that Android may be anticompetitive. "The Commission is investigating certain Google practices relating to the Android ecosystem. We are currently in the fact-finding stage and formal proceedings have not been opened," Almunia said.

He added: "We are currently trying to ascertain whether there are unjustified restrictions of competition in this area. Just a few days ago, a formal complaint was lodged by Aptoide, a rival apps store to Google Play Store."

The commissioner also revealed that a number of antitrust complaints have been lodged with the Commission on separate matters. Among the complaints are an objection to "Google's alleged attempt to put pressure on independent music labels to extract better terms for its new streaming service on YouTube", objections to Google's use of images from third-party sites, allegations that Google's promotion of its own services such as YouTube and Google+ is anticompetitive, and complaints about the terms and conditions Google uses for AdWords and AdSense.

Companies that have filed the complaints with the EC include publishers, a telco, a trade group for picture industries and photo libraries, and an advertising platform.

The Commission is now looking into each of the complaints. "We are following our usual procedures. At present, we are conducting preliminary analyses and these will allow us to decide whether we will have to open new proceedings. [The EC competition commission's] expert staff will look into these and possibly future allegations for quite some time. Google'ss compliance with EU competition law will be closely monitored," Almunia said.

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Topics: Government, Google, Legal, EU

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  • Almunia has given too much time.

    Strike where it hurts, fine Google $12 billion and these dirty tactics will stop...

    EU has spend too much time for this investigation... this is unacceptable.
    • That would be nice...

      Perhaps they could sue MS for 10 billion based on already convicted crimes as not being sufficiently punished already...

      No investigation needed.
      • anti-trust is "great"

        "Is there a massive company that everyone knows"?
        "Are you a small company that no-one knows/cares about"?

        Anti-trust complaint filed,

        Instant advertising!!
      • Your running out of excuses jesse, it seems

        You never even addressed his point of view on Google (that IS the company being investigated for ILLEGAL activity)

        Instead you start your "look what MS did 20 years ago" misdirection trick, to no avail.

        You can't even come up with new excuses for Google anymore. This will be a problem for you going forward.
        • yes but willy..

          Microsoft WAS found guilty of ILLEGAL activity more than once.. and yet you shill for them all the time... what is your point?

          I don't believe that Google has been found guilty of anything yet have they? Microsoft has decided to attach Linux by claiming that Google give android away so there by force us too as well to compete.

          They should be ashamed.. because if it actually works, they will be able to use the same arguement against all open source applications.. gimp forces adobe to be cheaper, libreoffice forces office to be cheaper, Linux distros force windows to be cheaper.. the question is.. how does any of that adversly affect "CONSUMERS" ?? they are the ones the EU seeks to protect.. NOT giant corporations that try to hide their participation by being just a name near the bottom of the list. If they were really "open" about it, tell everyone how much money and effort each member of the list put towards the whole scroggled thing.
          • Google simply has better lawyers..

            You stated "I don't believe that Google has been found guilty of anything yet have they? " but just *live* for a week as a google services user, and I'm sure you'll find an invasion of privacy suit just waiting to be filed, or a violation of performer's rights in the name of "copyright protection" or , og, I don't know, a hundred other really nasty abuses of power .. most of which seem to have a connection with either the NDAA or Big Money Records.
            I'll give you a real simple one. A certain Vlogger on You Tube is unable to even post a BLACK SQUARE, filmed in a black room on their cellphone, because Youtube wants "proof of commercial usage rights" How is that not obscene?

            Nick Ettema
    • SHILL!!!! that is probably what they should have fined Microsoft

      Google don't force people to use Google.. case in point, I doubt you do... but you still feel obliged to trash them for no apparent reason while supporting a company that was given massive fines by the EU on more than one occasion. Now they are trying to use the sting that got them to hurt competitors to help their own position. nice turnaround but it isn't working like they hoped is it?
  • EU Scrounging for Money

    I am sick and tired of all the EU suits against American Software and Hardware vendors. If you don't like the products, don't use them. Simple really. Google doesn't restrict apps to its store, it just strongly suggests you stay safe and use the store. Android phones don't stop people from using Facebook instead of Google+. I think all the law suits are just the EU's way of trying to recover their economy at the expense of American companies. Also, nobody is forcing anyone to use Google Search. This is all about money people.