Google Spared UK Antitrust Inquiry (For Now)
Lately, it’s seemed like just about everyone is interested in investigating and/or prosecuting Google. French courts, Swiss courts, and (perhaps) America’s own FTC have all been offended by different practices. Google may be spared an antitrust probe in the UK, however, as a minister there has declined to pursue the matter.
Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, indicated during a net neutrality debate yesterday that he does not intend to sic the Competition Commission or Office of Fair Trading on the search giant.
According to a transcript, Vaizey instead said, “The EU anti-trust probe is, I think, an adequate remedy at the moment, and I gather that the OFT looked into the matter three or four years ago and does not feel the need to do so again at this time.”
Vaizey also reiterated Google’s argument that competitors are just a click away, pointed out that the company’s stopped making piracy-related search suggestions, and highlighted Google’s willingness to pull ads from sites that promote pirated content.
So it seems Google has something of an advocate in Vaizey when it comes to antitrust issues. Vaizey even said, “[I]f I was a spokesman for Google, I might say that Google’s next threat was not necessarily from the European Commission, but from Facebook, which is now the dominant provider in social media services.”
Google just has to hope that someone else in the UK doesn’t decide to go around Vaizey and train the OFT’s sights on it, since the organization is a non-ministerial government department.