European Commission Launches Formal Antitrust Investigation of Google

Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome, speaks at Google's annual developer conference, Google I/O, in San Francisco on 28 June 2012
KIMIHIRO HOSHINO/AFP/GettyImages

The European Commission has opened a formal investigation into Google over whether the search giant unfairly favors its own online advertising technology over competitors.

The Verge reports that the European Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation into Google over whether the search giant unfairly favors its own online display advertising tech over competitions. The investigation will also examine whether Google is unfairly limiting competitors’ access to user data.

The EU announced the investigation this week. While the EU has investigated Google over antitrust issues in the past, this investigation is important as it focuses on Google’s core online advertising business which generated $147 billion in revenue for the company last year.

Bloomberg reported that this is the first time the EU has investigated Google’s online display advertising businesses where it serves as an intermediary between advertisers and publishers to place ads on web page pages and in apps.

The European Commission’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement: “Google collects data to be used for targeted advertising purposes, it sells advertising space and also acts as an online advertising intermediary. So Google is present at almost all levels of the supply chain for online display advertising. We are concerned that Google has made it harder for rival online advertising services to compete in the so-called ad tech stack.”

She added: “We will also be looking at Google’s policies on user tracking to make sure they are in line with fair competition.”

The European Commission says that it is exploring several of the company’s advertising practices and the investigations will also touch on Google’s plans to phase out third-party cookies in its Chrome web browser.

Google has faced antitrust scrutiny from both the EU, U.S., and most recently Japan. Breitbart News recently reported that the Japanese government plans to start investigating how Apple and Google interact with Japanese smartphone makers. This could in turn lead to the tightening of antitrust regulations, an area in which Apple and Google have both faced multiple challenges in recent months.

Read more at the Verge here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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