EC informs Google of anticompetitive practices

The European Commission (EC) has made two Statement of Objections about the way Google displays its shopping search results. The EC has been investigating whether Google’s shopping comparison and advertising related practices breach EU rules.

The commission released a statement that it has come to a preliminary conclusion that Google has abused its dominant position by systematically favouring its shopping comparison service in its search result pages.

In addition the EC also informed Google of its preliminary view that Google has “abused its dominant position by artificially restricting the possibility of third party websites to display search advertisements from Google’s competitors”.

Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner in charge of competition policy, said: “Google has come up with many innovative products that have made a difference to our lives. But that doesn’t give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate. Today, we have further strengthened our case that Google has unduly favoured its own comparison shopping service in its general search result pages. It means consumers may not see the most relevant results to their search queries. We have also raised concerns that Google has hindered competition by limiting the ability of its competitors to place search adverts on third party websites, which stifles consumer choice and innovation.

“Google now has the opportunity to respond to our concerns. I will consider their arguments carefully before deciding how to take both cases forward. But if our investigations conclude that Google has broken EU antitrust rules, the Commission has a duty to act to protect European consumers and fair competition on European markets.”

The supplementary Statement of Objections on comparison shopping follows a Statement of Objections issued in the same case in April 2015. Both Statements of Objections are addressed to Google and its parent company, Alphabet.