Report revealed that the EU on Wednesday formally charged Google with abusing its dominant position as Europe’s top search engine, laying the US Internet giant open to a massive fine of more than $6.0 billion.
The European Commission also said it would open a separate anti-trust investigation into Google’s Android operating system, which dominates the global mobile phone market.
The Commission, which polices EU competition policy, said it had sent a formal “Statement of Objections” to Google charging it with “systematically favouring its own comparison shopping product in its general search results pages.”
“The Commission’s preliminary view is that such conduct infringes EU anti-trust rules because it stifles competition and harms consumers,” a statement said.
The Commission said it would continue to examine three other areas of concern — copying of rivals’ web content, exclusive advertising regimes and undue restrictions on advertisers — identified in probes dating back to 2010.
In a major development, it also announced it would investigate “Google’s conduct as regards the mobile operating system Android.”
“The investigation will focus on whether Google has entered into anti-competitive agreements or abused a possible dominant position in the field of operating systems, applications and services for smart mobile devices,” the statement said.
If found at fault under EU anti-trust rules, a company faces a fine of up to 10 percent of its annual sales — in Google’s case, $66 billion (62 billion euros) in 2014.
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the aim was to ensure that “companies operating in Europe, wherever they may be based, do not artificially deny European consumers as wide a choice as possible or stifle innovation”.