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Google facing wave of competition activity in EU

EU competition commission expected to reopen previous settlement

Between the implementation of “right to be forgotten” laws and privacy concerns about their mapping software, Google has had no shortage of trouble in the European Union. And, as indicated by the recent stirring of EU antitrust regulators, those issues may only be the beginning.

According to the Wall Street Journal, anti-trust regulators are readying a series of probes into Google’s operations, and may also reopen issues previously settled with the search engine giant.

In February, Google and EU anti-trust reached a settlement over allegations that the company did not supply users with sufficient diversity of options in its search process. EU officials took issue with the fact that results from the engine appeared to favor Google services, but were placated by promises that any perceived favoritism would be eliminated. More than a dozen companies, including Nokia, Microsoft and Oracle, were involved in the initial complaint targeting Google.

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While Google could have faced fines of up to 10 percent of its global annual revenue if anti-trust regulators continued their probe, at the time EU competition chief Joaquín Almunia, said that Google’s promise to change this practice was sufficient in removing his agencies concerns.

Sources close to the matter said on July 22 that those terms are likely to be reversed and that restructuring of the deal could fall to a new competition chief, as Almunia prepares to leave the post in November. The competition commission has previously come down hard on tech companies. 

Microsoft faced $2.5 billion in fines in 2008, after failing to pay out a previous anti-competition fine, and despite attempts to repeal Intel is on the hook for $1.45 billion also due to competition concerns.

In addition to legal concerns surrounding it search engine practices, Google could also see additional probes into its mobile presence. In June, a Portuguese company filed a complaint with the European Union that alleged Google was not giving other competing application stores fair treatment, and was intentionally stifling their growth.

Executive Editor

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Chris DiMarco

Chris DiMarco, Executive Editor of InsideCounsel magazine, has a background in multimedia production with previous involvement in projects in which he developed and created content...

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