Tuesday, 27 March 2018 09:24

EU competition czar holds out threat of breaking up Google Featured

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EU competition commisioner Margrethe Vestager. EU competition commisioner Margrethe Vestager. Supplied

The European Union has raised the prospect that it may consider breaking up Google into a number of smaller units, saying it harbours "grave suspicions" about the firm's dominance of the search market.

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager told Britain's Telegraph newspaper that the threat to split up the search behemoth must be kept as an option.

Vestager said the officials in her department harboured "grave suspicions" about Google which dominates the EU search market with 91.5%.

Google was fined €2.42 billion (US$2.7 billion) by the European Union in June last year for allegedly abusing its search engine dominance to give illegal advantage to its own comparison shopping service. The company has appealed the decision.

At the time of imposing the fine, Vestager said: "Google has come up with many innovative products and services that have made a difference to our lives. That's a good thing.

"But Google's strategy for its comparison shopping service wasn't just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals."

She added: "Instead, Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors.

"What Google has done is illegal under EU anti-trust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation."

Google also faces EU fines over its AdSense advertising system and its Android mobile operating system.

In February, the Competition Commission of India hit the company with a fine of 135.86 crore rupees (about US$21.1 million) for "abusing its dominant position in online general Web search and Web search advertising services in India".

Google and other big multinational technology companies are also under pressure over alleged tax evasion, with the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, recently unveiling a proposal to tax these companies at a rate of 3% as an interim measure.

Photo: courtesy European Union

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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