The European commission has started a third antitrust charge against Google. The case this time concerned its AdSense advertising business.
Google is blamed for abusing its EU dominance in search to benefit its own advertising business, which has historically been the company’s main revenue stream. The EC also reinforced its existing charge against Google’s shopping service, which the regulator says receives preferential treatment in search results.
European competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said: “Google has come up with many innovative products that have made a difference to our lives. But that doesn’t give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate.”
She also concerned about Google hindering competition by limiting the ability to place search adverts on third-party websites, which stifles consumer choice and innovation.
Google and given its parent company, Alphabet, have already received two “statements of objections” from Commission with 10 weeks to respond.
“If our investigations conclude that Google has broken EU antitrust rules, the commission has a duty to act to protect European consumers and fair competition on European markets,” Vestager said.
A Google spokesperson said: “We believe that our innovations and product improvements have increased choice for European consumers and promote competition. We’ll examine the commission’s renewed cases and provide a detailed response in the coming weeks.”
The newest EU’s concern is about Google’s adverts relate to the company’s AdSense for Search platform, in which Google acts as an intermediary for websites such as those of online retailers, telecoms operators or newspapers, with searches producing results that include search ads.
The EU’s executive branch is already investigating whether Google gives preferential treatment to its own products, including Google Search and Chrome, in its Android operating system. Device manufacturers are obliged to place Google Search and Chrome on the primary home screen of Android devices, as well as other Google apps, if they want to provide access to the Google Play Store - the single largest source of third-party Android apps.