Tech Industry

Europe vs. Google: The end is finally in sight

The European Commission "in the next few months" will conclude its investigation into Google's alleged abuse of its dominance in search and Android.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has led the fight against Google.
John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

The European Union's years-long, seemingly never-ending investigation into Google is coming to an end at last, according to an EU official.

Regulators will rule in the next few months on whether Google abused its dominant position to get people to use its apps and services over those of rivals, Reuters reported Monday.

The tech giant is accused of guiding people who use its platforms like search and Android toward picking its own services by promoting them high up in listings and toward using its own apps by insisting they get preloaded on phones. The EU is worried this may have stopped people from discovering other services and apps that may better suit their needs.

The pan-European governing body has gone toe to toe with tech companies for almost as long as people have had personal computers and other gadgets close at hand, dating back at least to its landmark judgment against Microsoft in 2004. More recently the targets of its investigations have included Apple, for its tax practices; Amazon, for e-book deals; and Facebook and Twitter, for hate speech on their sites.

Europe's Competition Commission is examining three separate antitrust complaints against Google, one of which dates back to 2010. If the EU decides Google is breaking its rules, it could fine the company up to 10 percent of its annual global turnover for each case.

"In the next few months, we will reach a decision on the Google cases, Google search, AdSense and to me the most interesting is Android," Tommaso Valletti, the Commission's chief competition economist, told a conference organized by the University of Oxford's Centre for Competition Law and Policy.

A spokesman for the EU Competition Commission did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

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