In the News / Legal Topics / Social Media

EU Parliament votes in favour of Google break-up

BBC - Google break-upI spoke to Sally Bundock on the BBC’s World Business Report early in the morning of 26 November 2014, ahead of the European Parliament’s vote to curb the dominant position of Google in Europe.

The vote follows a series of curbs made at European and EU Member State level, including the introduction of the ‘right to be forgotten‘ in May and Spain’s ‘Google Tax‘.

The vote has been seen by many as a way to force the hand of the European Commission, which has been carrying out an investigation into Google’s position and whether the internet giant has abused that position.  Three offers by Google to change its practices have been rejected by the Competition Commissioner as being insufficient to satisfy both European law and Google’s critics.

On Thursday, the Parliament voted in favour of breaking up Google, in an attempt to stop it promoting its own products and services in its search results, which account for almost 95% of all searches across Europe.

My comments were borrowed by Marketplace (with a cheeky audio grab to boot), which reported as follows:

Thursday’s parliamentary vote is non-binding, it won’t force Google to break up. But Kevin Poulter of the law firm Bircham Dyson Bell says the resolution is aimed at the European Commission, which after four years is still carrying out an antitrust probe into the company.

“What the parliament is trying to do is apply that little bit more pressure to the commission.” Poulter says. “The European parliament is starting to swing their weight around and saying ‘We want some action taken.’”

That action could be punitive. The European Commission has the power to fine Google up to 10 percent of its $50 billion annual turnover.

What happens next is down to the Commission, but with pressure mounting from many Member States, time to act may be imminent. It will be for Google to ramp up its lobbying and start to make real promises that are in the best interests of consumers, politicians and competitors alike.

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