Google was already treading on thin ice as of late with both the U.S. Senate and the United Kingdom, but El Goog could soon face the wrath of the European Union (EU), according to The Wall Street Journal.
Citing unnamed sources, the report alleges that the European Commission is a few weeks away from filing charges against Google. This is the likely reason why the EC recently contacted companies that had previously filed grievances against the tech giant, and asked those firms if it could publish the confidential information contained in those grievances. Shopping, local, and travel companies are among those who have been contacted by the European Commission, the largest antitrust authority in the EU.
With the possible charges, the European Commission hopes to bring forth five main concerns:
- Google could be showing biased results that favor its own services.
- Google could be copying material, such as user reviews, from competing websites and displaying it on its own results without permission.
- Through its agreements with advertisers, Google could be shutting out competing search-advertising service providers.
- Google imposes contractual restrictions that prevent software developers from transferring ad campaigns across other platforms, and the legality of these restrictions could be examined.
- Even though it is less likely to be brought up, Google’s management of Android, its mobile operating system, could be brought into question.
These kinds of complaints are reminiscent of those found in a U.S. antitrust investigation against Google that concluded in 2012. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) dismissed the lawsuit, even though it concluded that Google took steps to favor its own services over competitors’ in its search results. Following the dismissal, the U.S. Senate launched an investigation that will look at whether the White House interfered with the FTC’s investigation.
If the European Union arrives at a similar conclusion, Google could face a fine upwards of $6 billion. We’ll keep an eye on this story as it develops in the coming weeks.