EU Begins Making Moves to Break Up Google
posted Saturday Nov 22, 2014 by Scott Ertz
Google's government-related legal troubles have been numerous and varied. In the United States, they have been FTC investigation, with a potential antitrust suit incoming. In Europe, they are being watched and warned by France, along with fines.
Their biggest issues, however, have come from the European Union, which have been investigating Google's practices. Recently, they were ordered to create a way for EU citizens to remove themselves from Google's search index, which resulted in an interesting and larger than expected influx of requests. This week, though, it looks like the EU is really upping their focus on Google's practices, beginning the process of enforcing an antitrust breakup.
The European Parliament has a draft resolution calling for Google to break its search business from the rest of the company. It should be finalized next week, with a vote coming as soon as Thursday. The biggest issue with the resolution is that Parliament actually has no power to order a breakup. They are really just hoping that by passing the resolution, it will put pressure on the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, which does have that power.
Consumer Watchdog, an organization that has been highly critical of Google, was pleased with the move. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project director told PCWorld,
This is exactly what needs to happen. Search should be separated from Google's other businesses. We called for this back in 2010 and the need to do this has become even clearer as Google's power has increased.
There is plenty of concern over the combination of Google's search business and others, such as YouTube and Google Shopping. Because of the combination, Google has the ability to place priority on their own offerings in search results rather than more accurate or relevant search results from their competitors. Because of this, it is understandable why the EU would want to separate this threat.
Unfortunately for Google, this separation would ultimately result in the end of the non-search business. Google is a company which has never quite figured out a business model and, instead, has relied on the Ponzi scheme of online advertising. That advertising money comes in largest form from search results. Without that revenue, Google could not continue to operate the rest of its businesses.
Could the EU force Google's separation? Would it ultimately end the company, or would Google abandon Europe entirely, as they did China? It would appear that we could have an answer as soon as Thursday.