Europe is going to hammer Google with antitrust charges that could cost the company billions

The EU has decided to file formal antitrust charges against Google, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing a source familiar with the matter.

This could ultimately lead to the EU fining Google up to 10% of its annual revenues, which would be about $US6 billion, based on last year’s revenues.

It would be the biggest antitrust battle since Microsoft’s case a decade ago.

The EU has been investigating Google’s market dominance for the last five years, and reports that it was going to file formal antitrust charges began swirling at the beginning of the month.

Europe isn’t happy with Google’s business practices and has spent time investigating the way it displays its search services compared to its competitors, how it uses content from other websites, its dominance over advertising on search terms, and restrictions that surround how advertisers can move their campaigns to other search engines. Overall, Google has a nearly 90% share of Europe’s search market.

The European Commission has been asking for the formal complaints other companies had confidentially filed against Google, to put together a Statement of Objections. Once filed, the charges will lead to even deeper investigations and settlement discussions.

If a settlement isn’t reached, the charges could ultimately lead to the EU issuing penalties against Google, including fines and restrictions. In other words: very bad news for the tech giant.

The European Parliament even voted to break up the company last fall, though it doesn’t have the power to do that.

Earlier today, Reuters reported that the EU competition commission was set to make an official announcement about whether it would file charges today, although Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas denied that saying, “If there is a time for announcements it will be announced, but there is nothing on this question today.”

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