EU competition commissioner accuses Google of abusing dominant position

17 Apr 2015

The European Union’s (EU’s) Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has formally accused US-based search engine giant Google Inc of abusing its dominant position in that market, following a five-year investigation that commentators say could now change how business is conducted online. On 16 April, Ms Vestager charged Google with distorting web search results to ‘favour’ its own online shopping channels in a manner that could be detrimental to consumers and competitors alike. The US company has been sent a Statement of Objections from the commission and now has ten weeks to respond to the EU’s allegations. In a press conference during a visit to the United States, Vestager said: ‘The preferential treatment by Google in its general search of one of Google’s own products, the shopping comparison service, also known as Google Shopping – what we see is that this favourable treatment over its shopping services constitutes an abuse under EU competition law.’ Citing the search engine’s ‘near monopoly’ in the European market as a way of unfairly promoting Google Shopping, she warned that Google must now provide remedies and binding commitments to redress the problem or ‘it can go to the direction and end up with a fine for the abuse, if so proven’, which could run into billions of euros. The commissioner has also opened an investigation into Google’s conduct with its Android mobile operating system. Google has so far rejected the accusations.