Google faces yet another EU antitrust complaint from tech group

A coalition of technology companies, which includes Microsoft, has submitted a further complaint against the search giant to European antitrust authorities.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

While Google continues to work with European authorities to settle an ongoing antitrust investigation, the search giant is facing yet another complaint from a coalition of rival technology firms.

ICOMP, a coalition of technology companies—including Microsoft, which founded and funds the lobbying group—has filed a formal complaint against Google under Article 101 of Europe's competition laws.

According to Bloomberg, the European Commission confirmed today it had received the complaint.

In a statement on the group's Web site, the coalition focuses its the new complaint on the "unlawful means" by which Google reached its market dominance in the first place.

"The ICOMP complaint points to Google's broad-ranging and illegal network of agreements with partners from across the IT sector, and explains that Google has reached its current size through anticompetitive practices, rather than because of any inherent technological superiority over its rivals," the group said.

Under three umbrellas of concern, ICOMP's latest complaint covers Googe's practices in search, towards advertisers, and how the company deals with content publishers.

Google, which has 90 percent market share in the EU, reached its current state of market dominance by "illegally blocking rival search engines' access to customers and consumers," the allegations read.

The group explained that as a result of Google's alleged behavior, ICOMP's members have suffered to the point where in some cases they have ultimately had to leave the market.

Because Google is in the unique position of being able to access almost all internet users in Europe, rival advertising platforms have become less attractive to the advertisers and publishers they typically depend on for income.  Google also forces its advertising and publishing partners to work with it exclusively, compounding these effects.  Over time, rival search engines and advertising platforms have found that they cannot compete with Google, and many have been forced to exit the market. 

A Google spokesperson declined to comment when approached by ZDNet.

If the European Commission decides it wants to bring charges against Google, it will first send out an open request for comments to rival businesses and customers. If that is successful, it could bring a case against the search giant. 

Last week, Google submitted further proposals to the EU antitrust authorities with moments to spare before the 12 midnight deadline. By settling, the search giant will avoid admitting wrongdoing but also evade having to pay massive fines, that ordinarily could be as much as 10 percent of the company's global annual turnover for the infringing period. 

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