Google under fire for anti-competitive practices, anew – EU pubs trigger oversight



It’s Google’s turn to be in the hot seat.

Today, we’re hearing about a new antitrust initiative on the part of the EU Publishing Council where an investigation led by Margrethe Verstager, the EU Commissioner for Competition, continues to move forward.

Foo Yun Chee reports for Reuters that while Google raked in a total of $147 billion from online ads in 2020, 16% of that came from a networking system in which some allege that Google itself has an “adtech stranglehold” on the market.

“The European Commission opened an investigation in June into whether Google favours its own online display advertising technology services to the detriment of rivals, advertisers and online publishers,” Yun Chee writes. “The publishers’ trade body, whose members include Axel Springer, News UK, Conde Nast, Bonnier News and Editorial Prensa Iberica, took its grievance to the European Commission.”

Earlier this week, we reported on some regulatory activity around Meta, formally Facebook, and also, that Amazon is now compelled to comply with British grocery laws.

So headlines feature restrictive and scrutinizing activity around three of the U.S. big tech stocks in one week.

As for Google, Verstager led an initiative to fine the company’s $5 billion over anti-competitive issues around Android.

“What we need is competition here and now,” Verstager told a TV reporter at the time. “The important thing in the market is that the market serves consumers. … It’s important for manufacturers to have choices – for us as consumers to have choices.”

Verstager noted that a lot of the results of these investigations and fines have to do with how well Google or any other firm complies with regulatory decisions.

In the age of big tech criticism, one of the big issues is self-dealing – whether giants with monopolistic systems give themselves an advantage that really distorts free markets.

Stay tuned to see what happens with this type of antitrust activity on either side of the Atlantic.