EU regulators nearing decision on Google antitrust case

EU regulators nearing decision on Google antitrust case
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European regulators appear to be moving toward a decision on whether or not to bring their third set of formal charges against Google.

Regulators are reportedly probing contracts related to Google’s AdWords product. Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner on antitrust issues, said that her team was moving forward with the probe, according to Bloomberg.

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"I hope that we can end that or come to a preliminary conclusion," she said in Brussels. She also said she hoped that she could reach a decision on the case inside of a “reasonable time frame.”

If the regulator decides to bring a preliminary case against Google, it would add to a pile of antitrust cases facing the company on the continent.

Vestager alleged last year that Google had violated competition laws by favoring its own comparison shopping service.

More recently, she brought preliminary charges against the company for allegedly using restrictive contracts for smartphone manufacturers using its Android operating system. Regulators allege that Google used the contracts to push manufacturers to preload its applications.

Vestager defended the latter probe on Thursday.

“Most of us will never download a new app to replace one we already have,” she said. “So by making sure we start with Google apps, the company can be confident that few of us will ever think about trying its competitors' products.”

Google has pushed back on all of the allegations; it will be able to present its case to the regulators after a formal set of preliminary charges are released.

American regulators may also be taking a fresh look at Google’s operations. Politico reported this week that the Federal Trade Commission had been discussing Google’s search service with a major American company, at the latter’s request.

That could signal that there is willingness at the FTC to revisit concerns about Google’s dominant business. The agency ultimately halted a probe into the issue in 2013.