EU widens antitrust probe to include Google ad, shopping biz

BRUSSELS – The European Union has opened a new front in its battle with Google, accusing the technology giant of abusing its dominant position in the online search market to benefit its own comparison shopping and advertising business.

The EU’s executive branch is already investigating whether Google gives preferential treatment to its own products in its Android operating system.

“Google has come up with many innovative products that have made a difference to our lives,” EU Antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Thursday. “But that doesn’t give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate.”

Vestager said Commission’s preliminary probe has revealed that Google has “unduly favoured its own comparison shopping service in its general search result pages.”

This, she added, means that “consumers may not see the most relevant results to their search queries.”

Separately, Vestager said the Commission has expressed concern that Google is hindering rivals by limiting their ability to place search adverts on third-party websites.

She asked Google and its parent company Alphabet to respond to the findings within 10 weeks.

“But if our investigations conclude that Google has broken EU antitrust rules, the Commission has a duty to act to protect European consumers and fair competition on European markets,” she said.