As previously reported, the European Parliament was considering a proposal to call for a breakup of Google. More specifically, it wants to separate the company’s search business from the rest of its offerings.
When the subject came up for a vote, the proposal was approved. Don’t get too excited just yet though. The Parliament doesn’t exactly have the authority to act on the Google breakup. Rather, it’s just moving forward with this position in hopes of convincing regulators that do have this authority – the European Commission, which has been embroiled in an antitrust probe of Google for years.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
In a vote in Strasbourg, 384 legislators voted in favor of the controversial initiative, with 174 against and 56 abstentions. Lawmakers rejected a last-minute amendment by the liberal party bloc that would have dropped a key clause calling for a possible “unbundling” of search engines from other services they may offer.
As The New York Times recently pointed out, one member of the Parliament – Andreas Schwab – was credited with drafting the breakup proposal, and also has a direct interest in Google’s business practices in that he is “of counsel” at CMS Hasche Sigle, a German law firm. This firm has represented German publishers, which have been battling Google. According to the report, Schwab claimed the proposal was a “purely political issue”.
Joaquin Almunia, the European Commission’s former competition chief, left office a month ago, as Margrethe Vestager stepped into the position. Vestager has indicated she will take her time with the antitrust investigation. Parliament’s call for a breakup should at this point only be considered as a suggestion to be weighed along with all other related comments from various parties.
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