“Don’t be Evil” has been the famous formal slogan for Google about corporate values, though it seems the search engine giant has been evil, as the European Union is most likely to take stringent action against Google after a five-year investigation over search engine market listings. The company may have to face heavy fines and new regulations as to how it delivers Internet search in a region that accounts for about one-third of the company’s revenue.
With Google being the dominant force in some countries of the EU, its rivals including Microsoft Corp. and Expedia Inc. are facing repercussions as Google highlights its own web listings at its rivals expense. EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager is going to issue Google Inc, a statement of Objections, which some media experts have described as ‘the first step on a path to punitive measures’. Google has been accused of taking undue advantage of its position as the dominant search engine, to favour its own services, imposing restrictions on advertisers along with scrapping other website contents.
Former competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia did not adopt such a firm approach against Google and wanted Google to formulate a set of guidelines so that its doesn’t abuse its dominant position. Once clearly laid out, these measures would have been legally binding. However, Almunia’s term ran out before the terms were laid out, and now his successor Vestager has decided to adopt a more firmer approach to the matter and take stringent measures.
“It’s a serious investigation with serious consequences if the EU chooses to bring a case and has evidence. What happens in almost every case involving the abuse of a dominant position is some combination of a fine and an order to change the behaviour in different ways”, said Spencer Waller, an antitrust professor at Loyola University School of Law in Chicago.
However, Google has declined to make any official statement. The search engine giant can face huge fines, up to 10 percent of its annual turnover and will likely be forced to reshape its business strategy in the European Union.
In recent years, the Commission has imposed heavy fines on other tech giants, including Intel, which was ordered to pay 1.1 billion Euros in 2009 while Microsoft 516 million Euros in 2013.