Google facing antitrust charges in Europe

Google facing antitrust charges in Europe
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European regulators are planning to accuse Google of violating antitrust law and illegally using its own size to push out competition, according to multiple reports. 

On Wednesday, the European Union’s top antitrust official, Margrethe Vestager, will publicly announce that the Silicon Valley titan has been informed that it broke the law by steering Web users away from competitors and towards its own services, two unnamed sources told the Financial Times.

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The move would be a dramatic blow to the Internet giant and could presage an epic battle involving one of America’s most iconic companies. Regulators could attempt to charge Google hefty fines — potentially more than $6 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal — or force it to alter its business practices.

European regulators have been investigating Google for more than four years. In recent months, the case has seemed to turn against the company, amid rising claims that it abused its dominance as a search engine to unfairly promote its own maps, videos and other services.

While Google is incredibly popular in the U.S., it has an even more pervasive reach in many European countries, where the search engine is used by more than 90 percent of the popular. Critics say that has given it the ability to manipulate search results in order to beef up its own offerings.  

Regulators in the U.S. previously launched an antitrust investigation against Google, but abandoned pursuing any charges in 2013. 

Newly released documents from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), however, indicate that there was some appetitive among agency staff for penalizing the company. Agency officials have defended their decision not to press charges, but the news has nonetheless sparked criticism on Capitol Hill