Google antitrust cases ‘high priority’ for EU

Google antitrust cases ‘high priority’ for EU
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European regulators are pursuing a slate of “high-priority” antitrust probes of Google that hit at distinct parts of the company, Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s antitrust head, said in an interview published Monday. 

“I do not think of it as one Google case but literally as different investigations and different cases,” Vestager told The Wall Street Journal. “What they have in common is that the name Google appears in each one, but apart from that they are very different.”

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She called the multiple cases “high priority.”

Since taking over as Europe’s commissioner for competition last year, Vestager has been seen as much more aggressive in pursuing cases against Google and other companies. She became the first regulator to file formal charges against the search giant. 

The commission in April argued that Google gives “favorable treatment” to its shopping feature in search results. The commission has argued that Google displaying its shopping feature prominently at the top of the screen artificially diverts traffic. 

Google, which restructured earlier this year under an umbrella company called Alphabet Inc., has rejected the charges as a matter of “fact, law and economics.”

Vestager said that probe would take some time.

In the meantime, she said regulators would eventually investigate similar allegations about Google's map and travel features. She also said regulators are “trying to move forward” on an investigation that looks into its contracts with advertisers and website operators. 

“The shopping case may have similarities when we eventually look at maps and travel and a number of other related services, because the complaints sort of tell the same story,” Ms. Vestager said. “But there is no such thing as you have done one, you’ve done them all. You can’t do that.”

Regulators are also conducting an investigation into Google’s Android smartphone operating system to see if it is being used to hinder market access from rivals. 

Vestager said phone makers and app developers have raised concerns about the Android business, but that “it is a different creature than the [shopping] case because people don’t think so much about the operating system on their phone.”