New EU Antitrust Chief to Limit Google Competition Probe

Margrethe Vestager, the new antitrust commissioner of the European Union (EU) wants to limit their investigation on the allegations against Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) on problems related to competition.

According to Vestager, their investigation cannot address many of the concerns voiced against the search engine giant in public debate regarding its alleged anti-competitive practices.

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Concerns against Google are not all competitive in nature

“Our current investigations involving Google are among the most discussed in the media. The sheer amount of data controlled by Google gives rise to a series of societal challenges.  Privacy is one of the most pressing concerns. Media pluralism is another. Not all of these challenges are primarily economic in nature and not all of them are competition related. We will have to limit ourselves to what we identify as competition problems,” said Commissioner Vestagr.

New talks necessary to address allegations against Google

Vestager emphasized that she has been following the investigations against Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) “very closely” prior to her appointment as Commissioner for Competition.

The antitrust chief believed that it is necessary to conduct new discussions with all the market players directly affected by the case against the search engine giant.  Commissioner Vestager pointed out that the parties have important questions about access to markets—a vital interest to all market players and have significant impact to consumers.

“To decide how to take our investigations forward, I need to know what those most directly affected by the practices in question have to say. I need to have a representative sample of views of those concerned. Also, we are talking about fast moving markets – I have to be sure that we have all the facts up to date to get it right…,” said Commissioner Vestager.

FairSearch, the lobbying group representing Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and other competitors in the search market filed is among the parties that filed complaint against Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) with the European Commission in 2010.

The complainants alleged that the search engine giant violated antitrust rules by favoring its own services in search results and reducing the visibility of its competitors.

Early this year, Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) reached a deal to end the EU antitrust case under the leadership of former Commissioner Joaquin Almunia. At the time, the former antitrust chief said the search engine giants’ concession were far-reaching and have clear potential to level the competition in the online search and advertising markets.