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November 4, 2016

Google hits back at EU in anti-trust case

Google cites “dynamic” competition in online shopping as it rebuts EU anti-trust case.

By Alexander Sword

Google submitted its response to the European Commission (EC)’s anti-trust investigation into its online shopping practices, claiming that the online shopping world is already competitive enough.

Kent Walker, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, said that claims that Google Shopping was harming competition were wrong “as a matter of fact, law, and economics.”

Walker claimed that there was plenty of competition between search engines like Google, price comparison sites and merchants and merchant platforms such as Amazon.

“That’s why online shopping is so dynamic and has grown so much in recent years,” said Walker.

He said that Amazon was often the first port of call for online shopping, not Google, citing surveys in Germany and the US as evidence.

Google says that the majority of online shopping searches start on Amazon.

Google says that the majority of online shopping searches start on Amazon.

Walker also claimed that the Commission wanted Google to highlight ads from price comparison sites rather than using specialised algorithms to highlight what it believed to be the most relevant ads, but that feedback from users says that this not what they want.

“Forcing us to direct more clicks to price comparison aggregators would just subsidise sites that have become less useful for consumers.”

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The EC is investigating Google for allegedly systematically favouring its comparison shopping service in its search result pages. The charges accused Google of misuse of its dominant position in online search advertising.

The Commission said the company artificially blocked the possibility of third party websites to display search advertisements from its rivals.

It also claims that AdSense for Search prevents competitors from succeeding in the online advertising arena.

There is another case centred on Google’s operating system Android: Google is accused of violating anti-trust rules by requiring Android smartphone manufacturers to pre-install Android apps to get access to services such as the Google Play Store.

Google plans to respond to the Android case in the near future.

“We’re confident these cases will ultimately be decided based on the facts and that this analysis will show our product innovations have benefited consumers and merchants, and expanded competition,” wrote Walker.

“The surest signs of dynamic competition in any market are low prices, abundant choices, and constant innovation — and that’s a great description of shopping on the internet today.”

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