Google Again Under Fire: Ad Practices Scrutinized by the Commission

Written by | Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

The European Commission has recently sent two statements of objectives to Google regarding its comparison-shopping and ads-related practices that are suspected to have breached EU regulations. The EU executive has reinforced its preliminary conclusion that the American search giant abused its dominant position by systematically giving preference to its comparison-shopping services in its search results. Moreover, the Commission also preliminarily said that the US company had abused its dominant position in the market by making it difficult for third parties to display search ads from Google’s rivals.

Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager acknowledged that while Google has come up with many innovative products and services that have made a contribution to people’s lives, according to her, “that doesn’t give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate”. Mrs Vestager explained that the issues with favoring Google’s own comparison-shopping service meant that consumers may not see the most relevant results to their search queries.” She also added that the Commission “raised concerns that Google has hindered competition by limiting the ability of its competitors to place search adverts on third party websites, which stifles consumer choice and innovation.”

The Commission now expects Google to respond to these concerns. Mrs Vestager also stressed that she would consider their arguments before taking decisions on how to take both cases forward. “But if our investigations conclude that Google has broken EU antitrust rules, the Commission has a duty to act to protect European consumers and fair competition on European markets.” Google said earlier that comparison-shopping services ought to be considered together with services provided by other platforms as well, such as Amazon and eBay, but the Commission thinks that shopping services and merchant platforms belong to separate markets. Google now has 8 weeks to respond to the Commission’s objections.

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