Google has been under investigation by the EU for five years, and last week, the European Commission sent a Statement of Objections to Google alleging it has abused its dominant position in the market for general internet search services by favoring its own comparison shopping product in general search pages. It also announced a probe into the company’s Android business.
In addition to all of this, regulators appear to be growing more and more interested in the business of Internet search, and are now reportedly taking a closer look at the industry as a whole, beyond Google’s dominance. Reuters is reporting that European regulators are preparing a “widespread inquiry” looking at not only Google, but also at Microsoft and Yahoo, aimed at determining if they’re transparent enough about how they display search results.
This inquiry will reportedly explore the dominance of U.S. tech companies, and seek to determine if there is a level playing field for European companies. The report says:
In a draft of the Commission’s strategy for creating a digital single market, seen by Reuters, it says it will “carry out a comprehensive investigation and consultation on the role of platforms, including the growth of the sharing economy.” The investigation, expected to be carried out next year, will look into the transparency of search results – involving paid for links and advertisements – and how platforms use the information they acquire.
The inquiry will also look at how platforms compensate rights-holders for showing copyrighted material and limits on the ability of individuals and businesses to move from one platform to another.
The inquiry is expected to be announced on May 6. Meanwhile, the French government is looking at requiring search engines to display at least three rivals on their homepages and to “reveal the workings of their search ranking algorithms to ensure they deliver fair and non-discriminatory results,” reports TechCrunch.
This may or may not actually become law, but if it does, search engines like Google would reportedly have to pay a penalty of 10% of gross revenues if it doesn’t comply.
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