Google has been under serious scrutiny by the European Commission, which accused the search giant of abusing its dominant position in the fields of Internet search and advertising. The commission now wants to put things under a more serious context by taking the necessary steps that would finally make Google respond to legal charges in the next couple of weeks.
The antitrust probe against Google, which has been ongoing for five years, has so far been stalled a number of times, with attempts to reach a settlement ending up in failure at least three times. The planned charges against the company would be regarded as the highest-profile antitrust suit that has ever been filed by the EU.
Part of the process involved in the filing would be asking permission from companies to publish their claims against Google. The EU is currently contacting travel, shopping and local companies to ask permission for the intended legal action.
In 2012, a similar investigation of the commission against Microsoft ended up with the latter paying the EU fines amounting to $1.8 billion. With the impending legal charges to be filed against Google, it gives the impression that renewed attempts of arriving at a settlement are unlikely to happen.
Under the antitrust investigation, Google is accused of a number of anticompetitive practices in Europe. These include getting content from rival companies and using it as Google's own; making Google's own services appear more prominently than the others'; and abusing Google's dominant position in the market.
"The fact that the commission has been seeking fuller information from complainants, against short deadlines of a couple of days, shows it is in the final stages of getting a statement of objections together," said one lawyer based in Brussels who represents a Google competitor. "It's part of the choreography you always see."
Google, for its part, has responded to EU's implementation of the "right to be forgotten" ruling by getting the advice from its appointed panel of experts. In February, it was suggested that the links under question should be removed only from Europe-located sites.
However, European privacy regulators wanted Google to deny access to the links on a global scale.
In November 2014, a resolution was signed by the European parliament, which called for search engines to unbundle their services with the commercial industry. The action might then result in the possible breakup of Google.
Should the charges be formally filed, Google will be given at least three months to counter the filing by proving that it has not committed any antitrust violations. It could also propose another set of conditions to help in the settlement of the case.
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