Google’s August 27 answer to European Union anti-trust charges has thrown the search giant deeper into an unpredictable and prolonged battle for the future of the web in Europe.
The first complaint alleges that Google skews results to favor its own comparison-shopping service; the second involves the Android operating system, but details are sketchy.
What we do know is that Google’s recent response added a new legal argument to its case against the EU, which means it could be another 18 months before the EU is ready to respond. Experts predict this case may burn across the EU for another six or seven years, throwing Google into legal limbo on the other side of the Atlantic for nearly a decade.
India Jumps on the Anti-Trust Bandwagon
In addition to Google’s legal problems in Europe, India has also recently concluded a three-year investigation against the Internet company and presented a list of concerns about the company’s size and anticompetitive behavior. What was a prolonged battle is now turning into a two-front war for Google, and the problems just keep multiplying.
Brazil and Mexico are also investigating Google for similar regulatory problems. It seems that the EU’s bold efforts are spurring on other countries where Google is dominant in search. Exactly how these efforts will change Google’s functionality in the distant future is uncertain, but for the EU, at least, the “right to be forgotten” is one of the most burning concerns of regulators.
Because Google isn’t considered an essential utility, it can legally treat rivals unfairly in the EU, but this isn’t the argument that Google attorneys anticipate. Instead, the Wall Street Journal reports that the EU will likely argue that the search company’s dominant position in search (with Google controlling up to 90 percent of the market in some countries) creates a legal obligation to treat rivals equally.
So far, the EU hasn’t imposed an injunction against the search giant, announced fines or sought a settlement — the case is simply hanging in limbo in the EU. As for India, Google has only begun to fight in that court. It remains to be seen how this will turn out, but it does appear that Google has dug in for the long haul globally.