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Google says EU anti-trust accusations 'wrong'

Friday, August 28, 2015 - 06:45
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US Internet search giant Google on Thursday rejected accusations by EU anti-trust regulators that it illegally abuses its market dominance, in its first formal reaction to allegations by Brussels earlier this year.

[BRUSSELS] US Internet search giant Google on Thursday rejected accusations by EU anti-trust regulators that it illegally abuses its market dominance, in its first formal reaction to allegations by Brussels earlier this year.

"We believe that the statement of objections' preliminary conclusions are wrong as a matter of fact, law, and economics," Google general counsel Kent Walker said in a blog post, referring to the European Union's official complaint filed in April.

By standing its ground in its formal response, Google leaves the daunting decision to further pursue one of the world's most far-reaching companies to EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, a steely Dane and Europe's top anti-trust regulator.

The stakes are huge for Google which if found at fault under EU anti-trust rules, could face a fine of up to 10 per cent of its annual sales - in Google's case, US$66 billion in 2014.

"We've taken seriously the concerns in the European Commission's statement of objections that our innovations are anti-competitive," Mr Walker said.

"The response we filed today shows why we believe those allegations are incorrect, and why we believe Google increases choice for European consumers and offers valuable opportunities for businesses of all sizes," he said.

In April, Ms Vestager formally accused Google of abusing its dominance in Europe where the brand holds an imposing 90 per cent of the search engine market, greater even than the US, where Google stands at 76 per cent.

After three extensions, Google was given until August 31 to provide its response, which it did in a 150-page legal document that carefully details the reasons for standing its ground.

In the response, Google rejects EU accusations that it offers priority to its own shopping services or paid ads thus diverting search traffic from competitors such as Amazon and other national players.

But Google said the EU "doesn't back up that claim, doesn't counter the significant benefits to customers and advertisers, and doesn't provide a clear legal theory to connect claims with its proposed remedy."

AFP