Google can't hide behind Alphabet, EU competition commish warns

So many cases have a common theme. It's the name 'Google'


Google's parent company Alphabet could face more competition charges in Brussels, antitrust commissioner Margrethe Vestager has signalled.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, she spoke about the lengthy, multiple probes into Google's business practices, and said that each investigation was at a different stage, requiring different considerations.

Indeed, only the shopping case has so far proceeded to a statement of objections being slapped on Google, whose response to the suspected violations is currently being pored over by the antitrust wing of the European Commission.

“The shopping case may have similarities when we eventually look at maps and travel and a number of other related services, because the complaints sort of tell the same story,” Vestager told the newspaper. “But there is no such thing as you have done one, you’ve done them all. You can’t do that.”

Vestager added that other areas of investigation, such as the Android case and web-scraping allegations, continued to be a "high priority" for Brussels' officials.

"[W]hat they have in common is that the name Google appears in each one, but apart from that they are very different. And therefore I do not think of it as one Google case but literally as different investigations and different cases," she told the WSJ.

Vestager went on to make a key point about the wide-ranging probes into various aspects of Google's vast online estate.

I think that whatever route a case may take, for settlement or decision, may eventually be tested in court.

The important thing is that people can understand what is going on. The Google case is about misuse of a dominant position, to promote yourself in a neighbouring market not on your merits but because you can.

And no matter the course of the case, there should be a takeaway which can be understood.

That comment may be obvious to EU antitrust nerds, but try explaining why this investigation is taking place to people who use Google's myriad of services and find them very useful. They often fail to see why the allegations against Google should stick at all. ®


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