Google formally rejects EU antitrust charges

Thu Nov 3, 2016 12:18pm EDT
 
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By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Google (GOOGL.O: Quote) on Thursday formally rejected European Union antitrust charges of unfairly promoting its shopping service and blocking rivals in online search advertising, paving the way for EU regulators to rule next year on these issues and potentially impose hefty fines.

The U.S. technology giant's rebuttal in the shopping case came six years after the European Commission opened an investigation prompted by complaints from rivals such as Microsoft (MSFT.O: Quote) and a host of European and U.S. rivals.

The EU regulator followed up with an anti-competitive charge against the company in April last year and added more evidence in July this year. It also issued a separate charge sheet against its online search advertising product AdSense for Search at the same time.

Google's general counsel Kent Walker said on a blog that the accusations had no factual, legal or economic basis, and that the company's actions were driven by its users rather than any plan to squash rivals.

"We never compromised the quality or relevance of the information we displayed. On the contrary, we improved it. That isn't 'favoring' - that's listening to our customers," Walker said.

He said the Commission had failed to take into account competition from Amazon (AMZN.O: Quote), merchant platforms, social media sites, mobile web and online advertising by companies such as Facebook (FB.O: Quote) and Pinterest.

The EU executive said it had received Google's response.

"In each case, we will carefully consider Google's response before taking any decision on how to proceed and cannot at this stage prejudge the final outcome of the investigation," Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso said in an email.   Continued...

 
A man holds his smartphone which displays the Google home page, in this picture illustration taken in Bordeaux, Southwestern France, August 22, 2016. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau