Can Google Overcome These Antitrust Allegations?
Earlier this year, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) came under investigation of the European Commission for allegedly violating European Union antitrust regulations with its search engine. Specifically, Google was accused of manipulating search engine results and discriminating against competing companies.
Upon receiving these inquiries into its dominance in the online search market, Google was allowed to preemptively submit remedies that would be offered to the complaining parties, according to The Wall Street Journal. The complainants’ responses are due by the end of the week, and most that have trickled in sound unimpressed.
“The remedies tabled would harm consumer welfare, stifle innovation and further restrict market competition for online search services,” said the European Consumer Organization.
Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel, wholeheartedly disagreed, claiming that the Mountain View-based company’s changes would more than suffice.
“As we’ve always said, we build Google for users, not websites. And we don’t want to hamper the very innovations that people like best about Google’s services. That’s why we focused on addressing the Commission’s specific concerns, and we think we did a pretty good job.”
Search engines such as Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bing and Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), in addition to Google, present advertising real estate for companies looking to reach a wider audience. Obviously the prime real estate resides at the top of the page, before a consumer scrolls down. Google’s alleged tampering with these search results to rank its own products and services higher than competitors, if true, would hamper a consumers right to a free and open market. However, Google obviously asserts that no such wrongdoing has occurred.
“That free flow of information means that millions of websites (including ours) now compete directly for business, bringing you more information, lower prices, and more choice,” Walker said.
The validity of this argument will be decided upon by the European Commission, but there is no target date set for the judgment yet.
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