Thursday, April 23, 2015

Google Accused of Anti-Trust Violations in the EU

This week, Margrethe Vestager, the EU Competition Commissioner, accused Google of favoring its own products in web searches, specifically in shopping, giving it an unfair advantage. Vestager claims it is harmful to competition, "Google's favorable treatment of its comparison shopping service - you probably know it as Google Shopping - is an abuse of Google's dominant position in general search." It is also likely that there will be further anti-trust suits focusing on Google's Andriod operating system. Google has a much larger market share for both search engines and operating systems in Europe than they do in the United States, where Yahoo! and Bing provide more competition.

Google has responded by saying that consumers have access to information in a variety of ways and it is not hindering consumers or competitors at all. The accusations come at a time when the EU has taken regulatory action against other American tech companies. Some, such as Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University, see a slight European protectionist trend. Others, like Nicholas Economides an economics professor at NYU, say that it is not at all protectionist and that the US could even file similar suits if the European ones prove successful, despite already finding certain practices by Google not in violation of anti-trust laws.

Do you think Google's actions constitute anti-competitive behavior? How strongly should governments attempt to enforce anti-trust legislation?

New York Times Article
NPR News Segment


Alex Medwid said...

I think that at this point, Google's actions almost certainly do constitute anti-competitive behavior. It is almost impossible for individual businesses to compete against Google's services, as google can run services at a loss for years with little consequence.

Seeing how governments have enforced anti-trust legislation against Microsoft in the past, I think that some enforcement against Google would be beneficial.

Netta Wang 7 said...

My main issue with these accusations is that the articles show no specifics on how these charges came about, or any evidence displaying Google's intentional traffic diverting "from competitors rivals to favor its own comparison shopping site". If the European COmmission has legitimate evidence for their claims, the charges make sense. However, if they are merely, as Katie said, protectionist, it is silly to attack Google just for having such a successful and dominant role in European search engines and assuming they're using that power for themselves.