The European Commission plans on charging Google for abusing its power in the delivery of its online searches, which favors the company’s services over other rival websites, the New York Times reports. After more than five years of intense scrutiny by the European Union, Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager reached a decision in agreement with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. This is not the first time European regulators have chased American tech giants. A decade ago, Microsoft racked up a total of $3.4 billion in fines over antitrust issues.
This decision will pose serious regulatory hurdles for the search giant. In some European countries, Google places its own web services in query results as opposed to sharing the space with its rivals. Reportedly, Google might be slapped with a huge fine and will be forced to restructure its business practices to allow other companies, such as Yelp to display their results in search queries.
The investigation will focus on the following areas: dominance of Google’s search results, copying of original material from rival websites, search advertising, and contractual restrictions on software developers.
Earlier this month, the European Commission announced that almost half of all EU consumers shop online. While this is good news for the online market, it raises the possibility of cross-border restrictive business practices. The Commission reports that only 15 percent of EU consumers bought products from a seller based in another EU Member State—suggesting that restrictions such as language barriers, consumer preferences, different legislations and anti-competitive practices exist.
In March, Google made an unprecedented move to combine its European regional and product operations into a single unit in response to fierce regulatory scrutiny.