EU regulators charge Google with blocking rivals in online search advertising

15 Jul 2016


EU regulators have brought charges of blocking rivals in online search advertising, against Alphabet Inc's Google. The charges, which come as the third set against the search company, could increase pressure on the company to modify its practices or face hefty fines, according to commentators.

The European Commission claimed that, from 2006, Google forced website publishers not to source ads from Google's competitors. From 2009, it replaced this practice with demands for premium placement for ads coming from its own advertising network, and for the right to authorise ads coming from its rivals.

In the first set of charges, which pertained to Google's "AdSense for Search" platform, the EC charged Google with giving excessive prominence to its own comparison shopping services at the top of its search results.

The second set was about the manner in which Google ran the Android ecosystem.

The EC yesterday, also reinforced its existing charge against the company, that its search results favoured Google's own shopping service over those of rivals.

"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," European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told a news conference in Brussels.

"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," Vestager said.

The second accusation yesterday, which added to the charge sheet sent to Google in April last year, rejected the company's claim that the EU watchdog had not accounted for competition from online retailers Amazon and eBay.

Google has to respond within 10 weeks to the AdSense charge and eight weeks to the shopping service case.

Google could be slapped with up to 10 per cent of its global turnover for each case if found guilty of breaching the bloc's antitrust rules.

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