Google under pressure in EU parliament vote | News | DW | 27.11.2014
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Google under pressure in EU parliament vote

EU lawmakers are due to vote on a symbolic resolution to rein in the dominance of Google. The Internet search giant and Brussels are also clashing over the "right to be forgotten."

The European Parliament has been debating a motion that asks regulators to introduce a more level playing field among Internet firms - namely, to consider breaking up Internet search engines from their other commercial interests.

The proposal targets Google, although the US tech giant is not directly mentioned. The move comes amid increasing pressure on the EU to curb Google's market dominance.

Google has been under the spotlight of European Commission investigators since 2010, reponding to complaints that the world's biggest search engine was squeezing out European competitors - as well as being an increasing source of concern relating to privacy.

The proposal is seen as a significant threat to Google's businesses in Europe, even though EU law cannot directly affect US law. Additionally, the European Parliament does not have the power to launch any breakup of Google or to initiate legislation, but a resolution would increase pressure on the European Commission - the executive arm of the EU - to take action.

The US mission to the EU said on Wednesday it had "noted with concern" the motion.

"It is important that the process of identifying competitive harms and potential remedies be based on objective and impartial findings and not to be politicized," a spokesman for the US mission said.

'Right to be forgotten'

Privacy regulators in Europe want Google and other search engines to wipe results from all search engines - not just their European versions - when people request their "right to be forgotten."

The EU's top court ruled last year that people had a right to ask search engines to delete results involving them after a period of time - personal information that is "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant."

But Google has been removing those entries only from its European sites - such as Google.de in Germany - which means they still appear on the main Google.com search engine.

Google has previously said it believed search results should be scrubbed only from its European versions, as local users were directed there anyway.

On Wednesday, a group of EU data protection authorities agreed on guidelines to help them implement last year's ruling.

"From the legal and technical analysis we are doing, they should include the '.com'," said Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, the head of France's privacy watchdog and the Article 29 Working Party of EU national data protection authorities.

A Google spokeman said the company had not seen the guidelines but would "study them carefully" when they were released.

jr/jm (Reuters, AFP)

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