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EU: Competition chief holds threat of breaking up Google

 |  March 26, 2018

The EU’s antitrust head Margrethe Vestager won’t rule out breaking up Google, saying the EU has “grave suspicions” about its dominance in Internet search.

Reuters, citing comments Vestager made to the UK’s Telegraph, reported Vestager said the ability to break Google up has to remain a real threat. The comments come as Google faces new rules from the European Union on its practices with small businesses that use Google services. Meanwhile, Reuters noted that in 2017, the antitrust head said that additional cases against the Internet search giant were likely to happen. Those comments come months after the European Commission (EC) levied Google with a record US$2.97 billion fine and told it to no longer favor its shopping service over others. In June the EC determined that Google cooked its search results so as to benefit its own shopping services—and disadvantage the services of others. Apart from the hefty fine, the EC gave Google 90 days to “stop its illegal conduct” and offer other price comparison services the chance to compete on a balanced playing field.

The EC is also currently creating new regulations for eCommerce, app stores and search engines. The idea behind the new rules is to get the companies to be more transparent about how they rank and list results and why some services get delisted and others don’t. The proposal would mandate tech firms such as eBay to disclose how they determine rankings and how algorithms are deployed, described generally (the algorithms themselves will not be explicitly disclosed). Any changes in terms and conditions must be announced 15 days prior to implementation, and the smaller firms must be given “individualized” descriptions of reasons for suspension or delisting. The proposal is set to be published next month and then must be approved by the European Parliament and by national governments, said Reuters.

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