Any minute now, the EU is expected to announce that it’s throwing the book against Google for anti-competitive behaviour which could result in huge fines for the US internet giant, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Word is, these fines could be as high as 10% of its annual revenues, which would be more than $US6 billion, based on last year’s data.
Equally important is what kinds of remedies and restrictions the EU will place on Google’s behaviour, should this agreement materialise as expected.
None of this has been lost on Google’s US competitors like Microsoft, Oracle, Hotwire, Expedia and TripAdvisor.
They have banded together in an organisation called FairSearch.org and hired former top Federal Trade Commission (FTC) antitrust litigator, Matt Reilly as their lawyer.
Reilly sent us this statement, saying on behalf of his client, FairSearch.org that he hopes the US does more to pressure Google, too:
Reports of the European Commission’s action today to reign in Google’s anticompetitive tactics are welcome news. U.S. consumers deserve and demand the same level playing field. Newly-disclosed evidence and legal findings stemming from the FTC’s investigation confirm that Google’s dominance is dangerously threatening innovation, and stealing choice from consumers. While the EU is taking action, sadly U.S. consumers are left waiting.
However similar complaints were leveled at Google in the US too, and came to light again after The WSJ found a previously secret document from the US Federal Trade Commission that explained how Google was favouring its own sites in search results.
Staffers at the FTC recommended at the time suing Google for antitrust. But Google agreed to make some changes to its search practices and the FTC dropped the investigation without suing.
It’s interesting to note how this has come full circle. Microsoft was the subject of antitrust allegations during the late 90s and early 2000s. And Oracle, it’s huge competitor at the time, wanted to help the US with its investigation.
Now Microsoft and Oracle have joined together to go after Google and former Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates are hanging out together socially.
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