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Google’s Monopoly Under Threat In Europe

Though Google may have US officials on the end of a string it is facing serious pushback in Europe. Calls for the search monopoly to be broken up and more heavily regulated have been voiced from high government officials as the company that once claimed the motto of “don’t be evil” is seen as a creeping threat to civil liberties and an open market for competition.

Google is now in the process of negotiating an antitrust settlement with European regulators over misuse of its monopoly power over search. The firm is negotiating a settlement concerning charges that it used its dominance over search to promote its own products over competitors. Though there seemed to be an agreement for a settlement between regulators and Google in February, the deal is considered by some government officials and Google competitors as insufficient to address the problem.

Add to that Google’s involvement in the NSA spying scandal and the powerful company may have some serious troubles ahead.

Accusations are mounting that Google unfairly exploits its dominant position in search, giving a competitive edge to its growing stable of businesses, like YouTube videos, its Google Play app store and its news alerts.

A landmark European court ruling this year forced search providers to give the public greater sway in purging links to personal information. Its Street View cars, dispatched to scoop up data, have brought fines in France, Germany and Italy.

Given Google’s use of money in the US to influence regulators and the politicians that appoint them it seems unlikely that any similar action will befall them in America. Especially considering the amount of money handed to President Barack Obama and friends.

But if Google faced serious sanctions or even a breakup in Europe there could be a ripple effect or perhaps enough of a weakening to bring competition to search. With a monopoly on search Google has a serious advantage when promoting its other products; without that monopoly there may be a more level playing field. In the event of a more competitive search market there may even be a need for Google to consider users’ privacy for fear of losing them as customers – something Google has little fear of now as many people have nowhere else to go.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Google’s Monopoly Under Threat In Europe

Though Google may have US officials on the end of a string it is facing serious pushback in Europe. Calls for the search monopoly to be broken up and more heavily regulated have been voiced from high government officials as the company that once claimed the motto of “don’t be evil” is seen as a creeping threat to civil liberties and an open market for competition.

Google is now in the process of negotiating an antitrust settlement with European regulators over misuse of its monopoly power over search. The firm is negotiating a settlement concerning charges that it used its dominance over search to promote its own products over competitors. Though there seemed to be an agreement for a settlement between regulators and Google in February, the deal is considered by some government officials and Google competitors as insufficient to address the problem.

Add to that Google’s involvement in the NSA spying scandal and the powerful company may have some serious troubles ahead.

Accusations are mounting that Google unfairly exploits its dominant position in search, giving a competitive edge to its growing stable of businesses, like YouTube videos, its Google Play app store and its news alerts.

A landmark European court ruling this year forced search providers to give the public greater sway in purging links to personal information. Its Street View cars, dispatched to scoop up data, have brought fines in France, Germany and Italy.

Given Google’s use of money in the US to influence regulators and the politicians that appoint them it seems unlikely that any similar action will befall them in America. Especially considering the amount of money handed to President Barack Obama and friends.

But if Google faced serious sanctions or even a breakup in Europe there could be a ripple effect or perhaps enough of a weakening to bring competition to search. With a monopoly on search Google has a serious advantage when promoting its other products; without that monopoly there may be a more level playing field. In the event of a more competitive search market there may even be a need for Google to consider users’ privacy for fear of losing them as customers – something Google has little fear of now as many people have nowhere else to go.

Photo of Danish version of Monopoly game by Nillerdk under Creative Commons license.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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