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US: Antitrust regs probe Google’s shopping comparison tool

 |  December 16, 2019

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) is looking into Google’s online shopping conduct as part of its broader antitrust probe, Bloomberg reported Friday (Dec. 13).

Richard Stables, the CEO of London-based online shopping comparison site Kelkoo Group, said he spent time with DOJ officials to talk about how Alphabet — Google’s parent company — allegedly damages his business.

Stables said he also met with congressional staff members in the House and Senate earlier this week.

Antitrust enforcers are now probing how Google competes in the eCommerce comparison market as the overall investigations continue.

A DOJ spokesman would only tell Bloomberg that the department has had “numerous productive meetings with third parties.”

Stables said he was concerned that Google could “squash not just other European comparison sites, but also travel companies, searches for local businesses and services, and other firms in the US”

A September blog post by Google Senior Vice President of Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer Kent Walker indicated Google promised to cooperate with antitrust officials.

“We have answered many questions on these issues over many years, in the United States as well as overseas, across many aspects of our business, so this is not new for us,” Walker said. “The DOJ has asked us to provide information about these past investigations, and we expect state attorneys general will ask similar questions. We have always worked constructively with regulators, and we will continue to do so.”

Google’s appeal against a $2.64 billion fine for antitrust practices in the EU will be heard by a court Feb. 12-14. Google and a tech lobbying group will bring their argument to the Luxembourg-based General Court. The European Commission will be represented by the country of Germany, as well as eight other companies.

The EU accused Google two years ago of favoring its own search service over that of competitors, levying the fine to punish the search giant and help level the competition field. Google went to the General Court with its appeal and is also appealing other antitrust decisions.