European Parliament backs call to break up Google

A resolution calling for companies to split their search engine and other businesses has been voted through by the European Parliament.
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

The European Parliament has voted in favour of a resolution effectively asking the EC to look at breaking up Google.

The resolution passed on Thursday by 384 votes to 174, with 56 abstentions. It supports the idea of a digital single market throughout Europe and says that tech companies should decouple their search engine business from their other operations.

It asks the European Commission "to consider proposals with the aim of unbundling search engines from other commercial services" over the long term.

While the resolution itself is not binding and does not mention Google by name, it's nonetheless sending a strong signal to the search company.

It calls on the European Commission — the European executive with wider reaching powers — to "to prevent any abuse in the marketing of interlinked services by operators of search engines", the resolution says, adding: "Indexation, evaluation, presentation and ranking by search engines must be unbiased and transparent."

The resolution comes in light of an ongoing antitrust investigation into Google by the EC, centering on allegations that its vertical search practices are anticompetitive, and it discriminates against rivals' specialised search services, such as shopping.

The process has been fractious, with Google and the Commission repeatedly trading barbs and being unable to reach a satisfactory settlement.

"The resolution underlines that "the online search market is of particular importance in ensuring competitive conditions within the digital single market" and welcomes the Commission’s pledges to investigate further the search engines' practices," the European Parliament said.

Today's resolution is likely to unpopular in the US: according to the Financial Times, earlier this week senior US political figures raised their concerns about the resolution, with House judiciary committee chairman Bob Goodlatte writing to the parliament's main political grouping that he was "troubled" that MEPs were "encouraging antitrust enforcement efforts that appear to be motivated by politics, rather than grounded in factual and legal principles".

Google declined to comment.

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