Google Given More Time To Respond To Antitrust Requests

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Google (or Alphabet) has until the end of the month to respond to EU antitrust information requests

The European Union has extended the deadline by which Google must respond to requests for information, as part of the antitrust investigation.

But the search engine giant only has until the end of this month to respond.

Extended Deadline

Google’s deadline has been extended from 17 August to 31 August. This is now the second time that its deadline has been extended, after its original deadline of 7 July.

“In line with normal practice, the Commission analyzed the reasons for the request. As a result, it has granted an extension allowing Google to fully exercise its rights of defence,” Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso told Reuters.

google cloudGoogle is being ordered to respond after the European Commission’s long running antitrust investigation into the world’s most-used search engine. In April this year, the EU laid the ground for formal antitrust charges against Google.

The European Commission confirmed in April that it had sent Google its “Statement of Objections”, alleging that Google had abused its dominant position in the search engine market. Specifically, it has been claimed that Google manipulates queries made in its search engine to produce results that favour other Google services, including its own shopping comparison service.

Google said at the time that it “respectfully but strongly disagrees” with the EC Statement of Objections.

At the same time, the EU also formally opened a separate antitrust investigation into Google’s conduct regarding the Android operating system.

Google surprised many this week when it restructured itself, putting much of the company under the umbrella of a new holding company called Alphabet. The EU has warned that the restructuring will not affect its antitrust probe.

Long Inquiry

But there is little doubt that the antitrust investigation of the search engine has been a very protracted affair. The European Commission had launched its investigation back in November 2010.

The EC probe into Google’s search products came it received complaints from a number of its competitors including Microsoft, TripAdvisor, Nokia and Expedia.

Essentially, these companies claimed that Google had abused its dominant position in the online search market to shut out rivals in areas such as price comparison, navigation and advertising. It is also investigating whether Google has been “scraping” content from rivals’ sites, and unfairly restricting advertisers and software developers who do business with the search giant.

In the course of negotiations Google missed several deadlines, tabled a total of three different proposals and even the company’s chairman Eric Schmidt got involved. In July 2012, it emerged that Google agreed to add Android to the list of platforms on which it would redesign the search algorithms.

And then in early 2014, it was reported that Google had finally reached a settlement agreement with the competition commissioner. But that prompted a howl of protests from rivals, forcing the EC to “revise” its decision.

Last September the chief executive of News Corporation Robert Thomson urged the EC to crack down further on Google. In his letter, Thomson lambasted Google and said it was contemptuous of intellectual property and routinely adjusted its search results in none-objective manner.

Prior to that in April 2014, the CEO of Axel Springer, launched a scathing attack on Google. Mathias Dopfner accused Google of creating an “electronic superstate”, as well as operating a protection racket and a ‘global network monopoly‘ in the digital market.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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