Senators urge Google to cooperate with European antitrust regulator’s probe

Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) urged Google on Monday to address the concerns of a European antitrust regulator.

Joaquín Almunia, the European Union's vice president of competition policy, concluded on Monday that Google could be violating fair-competition laws.

ADVERTISEMENT
He listed a set of complaints about Google's business practices and said that if the company did not address his concerns in a "matter of weeks," it could face fines and other penalties.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is conducting its own investigation into whether Google has violated antitrust laws. Kohl and Lee, the top Democrat and Republican on the Judiciary Committee's Antitrust subcommittee, held a hearing on the issue last year.

“We are pleased that the EU is working with Google to develop a set of voluntary solutions to the search engine’s problematic practices, including those that we identified at our September 2011 hearing," the lawmakers said in a joint statement. "We are hopeful that Google will be a willing partner with the EU’s Competition Commissioner. We continue to urge the FTC to investigate the concerns we raised at our hearing and to ensure a competitive search market where consumers can fairly pick the winners and losers in our online economy.”

Both the EU and the FTC investigations focus on whether Google gives preferential treatment to its own services in search results. 

Almunia also expressed concern that Google might be copying content from rival travel and restaurant guides and that some of its agreements might restrict competition in online advertising.

Mistique Cano, a Google spokeswoman, said the company has "only just started to look through the commission’s arguments."

"We disagree with the conclusions but we're happy to discuss any concerns they might have," she said. "Competition on the Web has increased dramatically in the last two years since the commission started looking at this and the competitive pressures Google faces are tremendous. Innovation online has never been greater."