The EU’s antitrust chief has set a July 2 deadline for Google to offer changes in its search engine and advertising algorithms or face investigation into alleged favoritism. The search giant is accused of abusing its market dominance.
Google is currently used for about 90 per cent of all internet searches in Europe. The EU is concerned that the company may be tinkering with search results to put its own services ahead of competitors and bans rivals from advertising at Google-controlled web pages, thus violating the semi-monopoly, Joaquin Almunia, the head of competition policy said in a letter.
Almunia indicated, that he expects Google to follow the request without the issue being taken to court. If the situation develops otherwise, a high profile battle not unlike Brussels’ antitrust war against Microsoft last decade may follow. In the worst-case scenario Google may face multimillion-euro fines.
The IT giant said it is cooperating with the EU’s investigation into the issue.
“We operate in over 100 countries around the world, and the internet is disruptive by its nature. It’s understandable that our business should attract scrutiny and sometimes complaints in a few of those countries. We’re always happy to answer questions authorities may have about our business,” the company said in a statement.
Google is facing increasing attention from authorities in the US, Europe and some Asian countries for several reasons. One is the interception of private data as part of Google’s automated data collection for its Street View service. The other is the recent change of privacy policies, which has raised concern that the new rules may not comply with privacy protection laws in several countries.