Google Data Practices Under EU Antitrust Scrutiny

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EU antitrust regulators are probing Google to see how the search giant uses and monetizes the data it collects on users, Reuters reported on Saturday (Nov. 30), citing the European Commission.

An EU executive told Reuters that the European Commission wanted to know what methods Google uses to mine data and the reasons behind the collection. 

The EU’s investigation is centered on search data, advertising, ad targeting, login services, web browsers and more, according to a document seen by Reuters on Friday (Nov. 29).

“The Commission has sent out questionnaires as part of a preliminary investigation into Google’s practices relating to Google’s collection and use of data. The preliminary investigation is ongoing,” the EU regulator told Reuters in an email.

In the questionnaire, companies were asked how data was collected and provided to Google, if there was compensation and if there was an agreement in place, a Friday Reuters article indicated. Regulators also wanted to know the kind of data sought by Google, how it uses the information and how valuable the companies consider such data. 

In March, Google was hit with €1.7 billion in fines from European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. Google was also ordered to modify its operations. That was the third multibillion-dollar fine imposed on Google in three years by the EU, bring the total to over €8 billion.

The new investigation comes on the heels of increased regulatory scrutiny into Google and other big tech firms. The U.S. Justice Department announced in July that it was probing the tech industry — Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook — for antitrust practices.

The antitrust investigation by state attorneys general into Google will be expanded to include the tech giant’s search and Android businesses.

In September, 50 attorneys general announced that they were launching an investigation into whether Google has abused its position in the online advertising market. The probe is being led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and involves 48 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. Both Alabama and California are not participating in the probe.