The European Commission is investigating Google for illegally favouring its own job ads service over rivals.
Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager yesterday pointed out in a speech in Berlin the Commission had already fined the Choc Factory €1.49bn for abusing its dominance in search to profit its other divisions.
Vestager said: "And we're looking right now at whether the same thing may have happened with other parts of Google’s business – like the job search business known as Google for Jobs.”
The probe was not unexpected - two weeks ago several rival jobs sites wrote to the European Commission outlining their concerns, although some of the firms had admitted that agreeing to follow Google's requirements had improved traffic to their sites.
Vestager used the speech to point out the regulatory challenge presented by some technology companies, which effectively operate as platform providers while competing with other companies that use their platform – effectively making them both a player and referee. This conflict of interest leads to the temptation for platform providers to favour their own services – as Google was found to have done over comparison shopping services. Amazon is also facing a probe of this nature.
She said the way companies collect individuals' and businesses' data could raise competition concerns but also might require a broader regulatory approach.
Vestager added: "[W]e shouldn't assume that we can deal with all the challenges that digital technology creates for our way of life, just by thinking about how it affects competition. The way companies collect data, the way they use it, the decisions they make about who they share it with – these are all things that can affect competition; but as our world becomes more digital, they're also choices about how our society works. And making sure that these choices don’t do us harm will have to be a team effort."
Google is facing several different probes in both Europe and the US.
The full speech is here. ®