Google Under Fire for Antitrust Violations for Search Bias in EU
Google, I trusted you!
The biggest search engine in the world is accused of search bias by EU. This was a result of over four years of investigation, which led authorities to believe Google favors certain pages over the others. This bias ultimately hurts consumers and competitive businesses.
Not only this, EU said they are also investigating a related matter of antitrust violations regarding Android, Google’s popular mobile operating system.
EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that Google will now has to offer an explanation and convince the “Commission to the contrary.”
In the case of Google I am concerned that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service, in breach of EU antitrust rule.
If the accusations are proved, which seems likely, Google will face severe legal consequences in Europe, and will have to change the way it’s doing business in the region.
Google isn’t silent on the matter, they posted a lengthy blog post explaining their side of the story and denying said accusations.
Google says their search may be the most used in the world, but people have other means of getting information. The company said “allegations of harm, for consumers and competitors, have proved to be wide of the mark.”
So what exactly is so objectionable about Google’s practices? Here’s what EU revealed:
- Google systematically positions and prominently displays its comparison shopping service in its general search results pages, irrespective of its merits. This conduct started in 2008.
- Google does not apply to its own comparison shopping service the system of penalties, which it applies to other comparison shopping services on the basis of defined parameters, and which can lead to the lowering of the rank in which they appear in Google’s general search results pages.
- Froogle, Google’s first comparison shopping service, did not benefit from any favourable treatment, and performed poorly.
- As a result of Google’s systematic favouring of its subsequent comparison shopping services “Google Product Search” and “Google Shopping”, both experienced higher rates of growth, to the detriment of rival comparison shopping services.
- Google’s conduct has a negative impact on consumers and innovation. It means that users do not necessarily see the most relevant comparison shopping results in response to their queries, and that incentives to innovate from rivals are lowered as they know that however good their product, they will not benefit from the same prominence as Google’s product.
You can read more about the whole thing over at the EU official website.