EU Charges Google: Ending The Tech Giant’s Tyrannical Online Reign

The European Union (EU) has formally filed charges Wednesday against Google on the grounds of “[abusing] their powerful market position.”

Charges against online and tech giant Google breaching antitrust rules were formally pressed by EU’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager on behalf of the European Union during the media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels on April 12. Reuters reported that Google was accused of taking advantage of its dominance in the online arena by manipulating web search results in favor of its own shopping service.

“[There is] systematic favourable treatment to its comparison shopping product (currently called ‘Google Shopping’) in its general search results pages, e.g. by showing Google Shopping more prominently on the screen,” the EU charges claim. “[Google] artificially diverts traffic from rival comparison shopping services and hinder their ability to compete on the market.”

Vestager explains that Google’s total market share in the EU is a staggering 90 percent, in comparison to 70 percent in the US, and this abuse of influence becomes problematic as it significantly tips the competition against smaller companies.

Drawing upon a five-year probe against Google, the official charges could see the EU levying a fine of almost $6 billion, which is 10 percent of the company’s annual revenue, and forcing Google to overhaul its system to recommend websites in Europe.

Google has immediately published a response to the EU charges in its Europe blog, with its defense being the availability of a wide range of information to consumers in this age of technology. It even cited a list of other search engines, specialized services sites, and social media sites.

“While Google may be the most used search engine, people can now find and access information in numerous different ways—and allegations of harm, for consumers and competitors, have proved to be wide of the mark,” Google said in their post.

But organizations and major companies in different countries are already showing their support for the EU charges against google. German economy minister Sigmar Gabriel, backed up by EU’s biggest economy companies, has voiced his approval of Vestager’s move. RTE News reported that The Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace also applauded Vestager’s decisive action to end Google’s “years of abusive behavior.”

Further along the EU statement, it states that the commission has also opened a separate antitrust investigation against Google’s most famous operating system, Android. Charges against Google regarding the operating system also seek to investigate the possible abuse of dominance in the field of OS, applications, and services for smart phones.

Do you think the EU is leading a pivotal move to end Google‘s tyranny or will this be another win for the tech giant?

[Photo credit: JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images]