The relationship between Google and Europe is going through a rough patch. This week, the European Commission has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google and its advertising business. The Commission alleges that the tech giant has abused its dominant position in the digital advertising market and suggests the divestiture of a portion of its advertising division if the company is found guilty of the charges.
“Our preliminary concern is that Google may have used its market position to favor its own intermediation services,” said Margrethe Vestager, the Executive Vice-President of the Commission in charge of competition policy, in a statement. The European Commission alleges in its preliminary findings that Google has “abused its dominant positions” since at least 2014 in order to favor its advertising business.
Google’s advertising business is essentially its main source of revenue, so if the European Commission’s recommendation were to be implemented, it could greatly harm the company. Google has already been fined in Europe on three occasions for antitrust reasons, but it was only required to change its business conduct.
The charges filed are of significant relevance, although it does not necessarily mean that Google will be found guilty. The company will now have to respond to the lawsuit and request a hearing before the European regulatory body in order to present its arguments. After the hearing, the Commission will have to deliberate whether Google has violated European Union antitrust legislation or not.
And Google has a lot at stake with this lawsuit. In the event that it is found guilty, the European Commission could fine the company up to 10% of its global sales and impose changes to its business practices.
This is the second clash between Google and the EU in just one week. A few days ago, the Irish Data Protection Commission, the main data protection authority in our region, denied the company the launch of its chatbot Bard in European territory for not having received the required information about the AI on time.
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