Google Faces Tough Battle with EC over Monopolisation Allegations

Following an on-going formal antitrust investigation into Google's dominance in the search market by the European Commission (first launched in May 2010), the EC Competition Chief Joaquin Almunia has issued a stern warning.

Mr Almunia has said he believes Google is "diverting traffic" to its own services, prioritising news, maps and shopping comparisons in organic search returns so that consumers are less able to make a balanced choice.

If the investigation concludes Google has crossed the line to monopolise itself over competitors such as Microsoft and Yahoo, it faces potential fines or intervention on how it displays its search results.

Mr Almunia commented: "We are still investigating, but my conviction is [Google] are diverting traffic... I think - I fear - there is an abuse of this dominant position."

In response to the investigation, Google is now preparing to submit proposals addressing the EC's competition concerns by the end of this month and has stated that "We continue to work cooperatively with the EC."

Nevertheless, Mr Almunia has warned that he would be "obliged" to submit formal charges if the documentation proves unsatisfactory.

This suggests that Google could have a harder time of escaping regulatory directives in Europe compared with its recent case in the US, where it was cleared of unfairly biasing its search results by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) but still had to make concessions.

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