Google slams EU Commission for stifling innovation

Marco Green
February 14, 2020

EU antitrust regulators plan to open an investigation into the technology industry, according to a European Commission document seen by Reuters, a sign of more regulatory problems ahead for Google, Facebook, Amazon and other online groups.

Google defended its business model on Wednesday, saying that making innovative products was at its core rather than helping rivals, as it sought to overturn a 2.4-billion-euro ($2.6 billion) European Union antitrust fine at Europe's second-highest court.

The case is T-612/17 Google and Alphabet v Commission.

Google has told EU judges that the €2.4 billion fine levied by European Commission antitrust regulators over accusations it unfairly down-ranked rivals to its Google Shopping service in its search engine penalises innovation.

The EU has fined Google a total of 8.25 billion euros in three separate cases, including one involving its Android smartphone operating system and Google's favouring its own price comparison shopping service to the disadvantage of smaller European rivals. "Google's status as the colossus of the digital age is unquestioned and until recently unquestionable".

The EU commission will give testimony alongside complainants who accuse Google of having smothered their business.

"The Google search service acts as a de facto kings creator".

Thomas Höppner, a lawyer for three companies fighting Google, argued that the company had abused its overwhelming dominance of the market that, if not stopped, would kill competition dead in all the markets in which the company decides to enter.

Instead of negotiation, she repeatedly fined Google and slapped Apple with a 13 billion euro tax bill that boss Tim Cook dismissed as "political crap".

The appeal hearing is to last three days with a decision possible by June.

"It is wrong on the law, the facts, and the economics".

The document also said competition enforcers were considering regulating the behaviour of dominant companies as a preventive measure, a move that would address concerns that regulatory actions sometimes come too late to fix the harm suffered by smaller rivals. For example, in November 2019, Google Shopping's rivals claimed the penalty hadn't incentivized the company to change its anti-competitive behaviour.

The EU has already said it was looking into Google's similar push into job ads.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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