Published in News

Google declares war on the EU

by on28 August 2015

Do your worst 

Google and the EU are on a collision course over the trade bloc's anti-trust charges.

It had been widely expected that Google would try to avoid a huge fine and other sanctions by giving in, but it seems that the search engine is minded to go the way of Microsoft.

The European Commission in April accused it of distorting internet search results to favour its shopping service, harming both rivals and consumers.

Kent Walker, Google's general counsel, wrote in a blog that economic data spanning more than a decade, an array of documents and statements from complainants all confirm that product search is robustly competitive.

"We believe that the statement of objection's preliminary conclusions are wrong as a matter of fact, law, and economics."

The comments coincide with the company's 150-page submission countering the Commission's charges.

Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso confirmed the receipt of Google's response to the charge sheet.

"We will carefully consider Google's response before taking any decision on how to proceed and do not want to prejudge the final outcome of the investigation," he said.

If found guilty, the company could face a fine set at a level sufficient to ensure deterrence, according to the Commission's charge sheet seen by Reuters. The EU antitrust authority can sanction wrongdoers up to 10 percent of their global turnover.

In his blog, Walker said the EU authority had failed to take into account strong competition from online retailers and eBay.

He also said internet traffic had risen by 227 percent in the last decade in the countries where the Commission said it had abused its power to the detriment of rivals.

Walker said the regulator's demand that Google give equal treatment to its rivals was "peculiar and problematic" and only justifiable if the company provided an essential service like an electricity company.

Thomas Vinje, a lawyer at lobby group FairSearch, whose members include Microsoft, Nokia and TripAdviso said that these were the same sort of arguments defendants in big European antitrust cases always make.

They traditionally argue that the antitrust authorities just don't get it, and that the remedy they demand cannot be implemented without causing technical and market chaos.

However in all those cases it always goes pear-shaped for those accused – just ask Intel and Microsoft.

Last modified on 28 August 2015
Rate this item
(5 votes)

Read more about: