Google Fights Back Against EU Charges

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1 September 2015. Google has filed a formal response to EU allegations of anti-competitive behaviours. Google stands accused of deploying tactics to boost the ranking of its own Google Shopping price comparison services, whilst pushing rival services offered by competitors further down the search results by demoting the value of their links or simply refusing to list them altogether. The search engine has responded by saying it rejects the accusations, calling them “wrong as a matter of fact, law and economics”. Google claims that it has increased the amount of traffic to competitor price comparison sites by 227% over the past decade and that numerous new price comparison sites are launching all over Europe, thereby proving that its practices are not anti-competitive. The search engine also says that it does not have a legal duty to drive traffic to competitor price comparison sites, as it is not the sole search engine available to European users, i.e. users can simply use another search engine if they wish. And finally, it accuses the European Commission of underestimating the number of people who use competitor services such as eBay and Amazon when shopping online. The EU has acknowledged receipt of Google’s response, saying: “We will carefully consider Google\'s response before taking any decision on how to proceed and do not want to prejudge the final outcome of the investigation”. If the charges against Google are successful, the search engine may be forced to pay fines of up to 10% of its revenue, which could total as much as 6.6 billion US dollars.

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