It's On: EU Goes After Google

Statement of objections issued today
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 15, 2015 6:35 AM CDT
Updated Apr 15, 2015 7:42 AM CDT
European Union's competition chief Margrethe Vestager speaks during a media conference regarding Google at EU headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, April 15, 2015.   (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
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(Newser) – As expected, the EU today made it official: It is going after Google, which was today hit with the first formal antitrust charges it's ever faced, the Wall Street Journal reports. EU regulators also opened a probe into its Android mobile system. Regulators allege that since 2008, Google has steered Internet users away from competitors and toward its own "comparison shopping service," says EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. What's at stake: a whole lot of time and money. The AP reports "years of legal wrangling" could follow, though the Journal reports a final EU decision could come as soon as late 2015, after Google has had the opportunity to respond to the "statement of objections." The EU can impose fines equal to 10% of annual revenue—that's $6 billion in Google's case.

The AP reports that 90% of Internet searches in the EU are done via Google; the US figure is 70%. Vestager says that 25% of the companies who have complained about Google's practices are US rivals. An internal Google memo obtained by Re/code had the company yesterday reassuring its workers that "we have a very strong case"; it includes charts related to shopping search data that appear to make that case. But Quartz yesterday pointed to data that indicates no company "has ever been cleared after a statement of objections has been issued." As for the separate antitrust probe into Android, Vestager says the EU plans to investigate whether Google relies on anti-competitive deals and abuses its dominant position in Europe's mobile market. (Read more Google stories.)

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