Europe to Accuse Google of Illegally Abusing Its Dominance

Alex Barker and Christian Oliver, Financial Times:

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, is to say that the US group will soon be served with a formal charge sheet alleging that it breached antitrust rules by diverting traffic from rivals to favour its own services, according to two people familiar with the case.


In a further blow to the US group, Ms Vestager on Wednesday will also launch a separate formal investigation into Google’s Android operating system for smartphones.

The Commission probe will examine whether Google imposes uncompetitive terms on handset makers that ultimately favour its own lucrative apps such as YouTube. Google rejects any allegations of wrongdoing and says Android is an open platform distributed free.

Google has been accused of anticompetitive behaviour in the past, but they’ve always managed to settle. This is the first time charges will be laid against them.

This news breaks in the wake of comments from the EU digital chief, as reported by the Wall Street Journal:

The European Union should regulate Internet platforms in a way that allows a new generation of European operators to overtake the dominant U.S. players, the bloc’s digital czar said, in an unusually blunt assessment of the risks that U.S. Web giants are viewed as posing to the continent’s industrial heartland.

Speaking at a major industrial fair in Hannover, Germany, the EU’s digital commissioner, Günther Oettinger, said Europe’s online businesses were “dependent on a few non-EU players world-wide” because the region had “missed many opportunities” in the development of online platforms.

Regardless of the overlap between Oettinger’s comments and the EU’s forthcoming actions, the EU is not without reasonable grounds to file these charges.