Oh, well, you are wrong, Google responds to the European Commission

Google EU Antitrust CaseMany months post the European Commission filed formal antitrust actions against Google, the American tech-giant issued its response to the Commission last week. Google, which has always denied the European Union’s antitrust charges, this time decided to formalise its response and speak wide open.

In short, the high interests and the enormous weight the case has in antitrust files in Europe, have been stamped by Google in a 150 pages document, and then condensed into a post that appeared on Google’s European blog last Thursday.

Google attacks

“We’ve taken seriously the concerns in the European Commission’s Statement of Objections (SO) that our innovations are anti-competitive”, declared Kent Walker, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Google, to open the company’s statement on their official blog. “The response we filed today shows why we believe those allegations are incorrect, and why we believe that Google increases choice for European consumers and offers valuable opportunities for businesses of all sizes”, he added.

Mr. Walker basically resumed the case where it was left a few months ago, when the European Commission formally opened the Google’s case, alleging the company’s search results unfairly favoured its own shopping services over third-party sites. “The SO says that Google’s displays of paid ads from merchants (and, previously, of specialized groups of organic search results) “diverted” traffic away from shopping services”, said Walker. “But the SO doesn’t back up that claim, doesn’t counter the significant benefits to consumers and advertisers, and doesn’t provide a clear legal theory to connect its claims with its proposed remedy”.

Five-year investigation

It is evident how Google now wants to formally attack the accusations by the European Commission, without leaving any space for doubts or misunderstanding. But the question here is whether it is now too late to convince the European watchdog. The antitrust charge followed a five-year investigation by the EU against the company and came to the formal EU conclusion that Google harms both its rivals and consumers with unfair competition.

EU concerns

Google now says that all accusations by the European Commission are situated far from reality, and that its shopping service not only gives fair space to all competitors, but indeed benefits customers and businesses without unlawfully distorting the market. Back in April, EU’s Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager  felt “concerned that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service, in breach of EU antitrust rules”. She also said that “Google now has the opportunity to convince the Commission to the contrary”.

“We don’t think this format is anti-competitive”, now Mr. Walker responds to Commissioner Vestager’s concerns. “On the contrary, showing ads based on structured data provided by merchants demonstrably improves ad quality and makes it easier for consumers to find what they’re looking for. We show these ad groups where we’ve always shown ads […] and we use specialised algorithms to maximize their relevance for users. Data from users and advertisers confirms they like these formats. That’s not ‘favoring’ – that’s giving our customers and advertisers what they find most useful”.

A brief analysis

Even if we assumed that all that Mr. Walker says is true, an important observation is due here. Google says its online-shopping service has indeed advantaged competitors, rather than damaging them. Mr. Walker, for instance, underlined how web traffic to other price-comparison sites has been increased by 227% over the past decade, and how Google delivered more than 20 billion free clicks to aggregators over the last decade in the countries covered by the SO. However, he never mentioned how Google’s own traffic has increased in the same time frame, or how the data collection has improved. It is only through the data a dominant firm collects, and the more users it gets, that it can improve its service, and to extend its lead over rivals. This, we believe, is a crucial point.

High-priced risks

Commissioner Vestager’s spokesperson Ricardo Cardoso confirmed she had received Google’s reply. Mr. Walker concluded the statement on Google’s blog saying that they “look forward to discussing our response and supporting evidence with the Commission”. “We will carefully consider Google’s response before taking any decision on how to proceed and do not want to prejudge the final outcome of the investigation”, EU’s Cardoso replied.

Now it is high time to see what impact Google’s clear-cut reply will have. If found guilty of violating EU law, the Mountain View, California-based company, could face fines of up to €6 billion, roughly 10 percent of the company’s operating revenue. That’s certainly no peanuts at all.

The European Sting will keep following this important case.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “You just don’t know if the oil price will be 20$ or 100$ in the next 2-3 years!” top Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff underscores from Davos

Trump systematically upsets global order and trade: Where does this end?

Privacy is a human right, we need a GDPR for the world: Microsoft CEO

UN mobilizes in Rohingya camps to support babies born of rape; young mothers face stigma

European Citizens’ Initiative: A game of much publicity and one big lie

Why are wildfires getting worse?

Is the energy industry meeting its sustainability goals?

A day in the life of a refugee: the wait

Central Asia bloc has important role in ‘peace, stability and prosperity’ beyond region, says Deputy UN chief

UN postal agency ‘regrets’ US withdrawal

United States: UN human rights office welcomes California moratorium on death penalty

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: Transport Industry Drive for Improved Energy Efficiency and Electro-Mobility to Stem High Growth of Emissions

Vaccines: from miracle to possible danger

EU Commission: Germany can make Eurozone grow again just by helping itself

Pharmaceuticals: Commission refines intellectual property rules

Women must have an equal share in politics, say MEPs and national MPs

European markets itchy with short-term disturbances

Tools of asset development: Renewable Energy Projects case

Three ways Finland leads the world – and education isn’t one of them

The European giant tourism sector in constant growth

Global economy to see ‘steady’ growth of three per cent in 2019 despite risks, says UN

Eurogroup asked to reduce public debts of its member states

Italian elections: a long political limbo is ahead

Latin America’s cities are ready to take off. But their infrastructure is failing them

EU regional differences betray an unjust arrangement

Trade war or not New York bankers will have it their way

Women-Friendly Spaces for Rohingya refugees: A place for protection and care

A Young entrepreneur cries out: “start in Europe, stay in Europe”

The ‘abuse of food relief in Yemen’ must end now

Council’s position on Visa Directive a step back for young people’s mobility

Gaza: deadly violence continues to escalate, top UN officials work to restore calm

UN chief condemns attack targeting international forces in northern Mali

Creating shared value: an opportunity and challenge for entrepreneurship

‘Proving our worth through action’: 5 things Guterres wants the UN to focus on in 2019

Congrats to the #FutureofMalta: a new age of voting

Encouraging progress made in 2018, in ‘zero tolerance’ effort to end sexual exploitation and abuse across UN

Are you breathing plastic air at home? Here’s how microplastics are polluting our lungs

Europe’s top court hears Intel and sends € 1.06 bn antitrust fine to review

11 lessons the history of business can teach us about its future

This surgeon runs a makeshift hospital for over 200,000 people

Berlin wants to break South’s politico-economic standing

ECB: Reaching the limits of its mandate to revive the Eurozone economy

Galileo funding: A ‘small’ difference of €700 million

Commission launches debate on a gradual transition to more efficient and democratic decision-making in EU tax policy

Fresh airstrikes kill dozens in conflict-ravaged Syria

This new way of understanding disease is changing medicine

Why today’s leaders need to know about the power of narratives

Vaccinations and the movement of anti-vaccers

Scientists are growing meat on blades of grass

These are the world’s most fragile states in 2019

London wants to treat violent crime like a disease

Want more climate action? Let’s show how good a planet-friendly life can be

Europe’s far-right launches attacks on neighboring nations

Top envoy to Yemen praises ‘flexibility’ of chief negotiators as new UN mission chief is named

MEPs agree on new rules to tax digital companies’ revenues

EU Commission announces Safe Harbour 2.0 and a wider Data protection reform

US-North Korea summit in Singapore ‘a promising development’ says Guterres

My unlimited China

Safer products: stepping up checks and inspections to protect consumers

YO!Fest back in Strasbourg for the 2nd edition of the European Youth Event – 20-21 May 2016

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s