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EU wants to divide and conquer Google

Published Nov 28th, 2014 6:50AM EST
EU vs. Google Search

The European Parliament on Thursday voted to break up Google, Reuters reports. The motion against Google, which already has its fair share of legal troubles in the EU, was “overwhelmingly backed” — 384 votes for and 174 against — although it’s not exactly clear what that means for the giant corporation’s search business.

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The EU apparently wants to break Google’s monopoly on search in the region, but also find ways for U.S.-based tech companies to avoid tax-dodging loopholes. Google basically owns search in the region, having a 90% share of the market, which prompted competitors to ask the EU to look into Google’s search-related business practices. Google is still facing a fine that could amount to up to $5 billion for offering prominent placement to its other services in search results, and the company’s attempts to settle the matter have been unsuccessful in the past.

“Monopolies in whatever market have never been useful, neither for consumers nor for the companies,” German conservative lawmaker and co-sponsor of the new bill Andreas Schwab said.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said she will further investigate Google’s case and the complaints against it, before reaching a decision. Her predecessor rejected three of Google’s attempts to settle.

The German and French governments have further asked the EU to review its competition rules, and make sure that Internet companies won’t be able to use “tax optimization strategies” in the region. Other U.S. companies including Apple and Amazon are under investigation in the EU for their tax-related practices.

Even though the motion against Google received consistent support in the European Parliament, not all politicians agree.

“Parliament should not be engaging in anti-Google resolutions, inspired by a heavy lobby of Google competitors or by anti-free market ideology, but ensure fair competition and consumer choice,” Parliament’s ALDE liberal group lawmaker Sophie in’t Veld said.

While Google did not comment on the matter, the Computer & Communications Industry Association lobbying group, whose members include Google, Facebook, Microsoft, eBay and Samsung, said the proposal of dividing Google is “extreme and unworkable.”

Chris Smith
Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.