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February 23, 2016updated 31 Aug 2016 12:51pm

EU revives antitrust probe against Google ad practices

News: Sundar Pichai is due to meet with commissioner Margrethe Vestager this week.

By CBR Staff Writer

Google is facing further antitrust investigations by the European Commission, which is now taking a renewed look at the company’s advertising practices.

Citing three people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported that the EU has been quizzing firms involved in online advertising in recent weeks over Google’s behavior.

According to reports, officials are seeking information that may be used to build a statement of objections listing areas where they feel Google breaches antitrust rules.

One of the people said Google’s $1bn payment to Apple to keep its search bar on the iPhone is one of the kind of exclusivity deals regulators are focusing on.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai is due to meet with the EU’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager in Brussels this week.

Last month, Vestager said she is ready to probe Google’s £130m tax deal with the UK. The deal covers money held by the company since 2005 and follows a six year investigation by Revenue and Customs over concerns that the search giant was not paying its share of tax fairly.

Earlier this month, Vestager rejected US criticism regarding the tax crackdown on US multinationals like Apple, Starbucks and McDonald’s.

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In April 2015, Vestager accused Google of abusing its market dominance in the search and smartphone markets.

The EU regulators are already investigating Google parent Alphabet on various fronts, ranging from its contracts with advertisers to its Android mobile-operating system.

The investigations will look at whether Google hurts rivals by forcing operators to pre-install its services.

Regulators are also looking at claims that the company favors its own maps and travel services when compared to others.

Google has been accused of infringing EU antitrust rules and stifling competition by misusing its dominant position in search services in the European Economic Area (EEA) through preferential treatment to its own shopping links.

The company has however rebuffed the EU’s allegations by claiming that despite its 90% share of the European search market and Android’s 70% share of the European smartphone market, competition is still thriving in the sector.

 

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