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EU points finger at Google, demands response to antitrust concerns

Competition Commission sends ‘charge sheet’ to US search giant, pursues heavy penalties

Law and regulation, IT Business, Google Incorporated

The EU's competition watchdog yesterday accused Google of anti-competitive practices that hurt consumers and were unfair to industry rivals, Reuters reported.

The EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager set out the "charges" in a Statement of Objections, which was sent to Google.

"I am concerned that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service, in breach of EU antitrust rules," Vestager said.

The US search giant has 10 weeks to respond to the accusations, but if the Commission can prove its case to the EU Executive, this will likely lead to the imposition of heavy penalties. The EU could levy fines up to 10% of Google's annual revenue, which would amount to $6.6bn based on 2014 turnover.

The Commission's action follows a five-year probe into Google's business practices. The company has long been accused, by critics at home and abroad, of arranging its search results to favour its own services, especially in sectors where it is a relatively small player, such as travel and hospitality.

The EU also began an investigation yesterday into Google's alleged use of its Android OS to stymie competition in the mobile advertising space.