Search engine behemoth Google is set to receive charges from the EU that it violated the bloc's fair competition laws. The company has been accused of diverting traffic from rivals to favor its own sites and services.
The European Union will file antitrust charges against Google on Wednesday, according to media reports. After a five-year probe into the internet giant for allegedly abusing its dominance among search engines in Europe, following what EU Digital Economy Commissioner Günter Oettinger called "very competent complaints" that Google is privileging its own services when users conduct Internet searches.
Oettinger's remarks on the sidelines of the Hanover trade fair on Tuesday came a day before the European Commission was set to hold its weekly meeting. His comments referred to a probe begun in November 2010 after competitors such as Microsoft protested the company's dominance in the search engine market. The investigation has focused on whether Google is giving its specialized services - Google Maps, for example - favorable treatment in the way search results are displayed online.
Google could see billions in fines
Google faces fines of up to $6.6 billion (6.19 billion euros) if the charges are proven. The European Comission has so far rejected concessions offered by the company in hopes to avoid the fine, although it often lets companies settle in these kinds of cases so as to avoid lengthy legal battles.
The complaint will be handled by the office of the EU's Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who according to the Financial Times will announce on Wednesday that the commission is ready to serve Google with a statement of objections.
"The issues at stake in our Google investigations have a big potential impact on many players, they are multifaceted and complex…the sheer amount of data controlled by Google gives rise to a series of societal changes," the Danish politician said after taking over from her Spanish predecessor Joaquin Almunia last November.
es/bw (AP,dpa, Reuters)