The European Parliament has just voted in favour of a proposal to “break up” Google. The proposal moves that Google separate search from all of its another avenues of revenue and business. The victory was decisive, as European legislators voted 458 to 173 in favour of the proposal.
Upon first reading, this news appears to a be a monumental announcement, with ramifications which could echo through the entire tech market. But it is worth taking into account at this point that the EU does not have the power to break up the tech giant. The proposal should be more accurately construed as a dramatic message to Google that the European Parliament are profoundly dissatisfied with their business practices.
The vote was proposed by Parliament members Ramon Tremosa and Andreas Schwab, and is the latest installment in the ongoing saga of Google’s anti-trust invesigation by the EU. The investigation has currently taken four years.
“In case the proceedings against Google carry on without any satisfying decisions and the current anti-competitive behaviour continues to exist, a regulation of the dominant online web search should be envisaged,” the pair stated. “In the past, Google has failed to propose adequate remedies to address the Commission’s concerns and continued to pursue its practices unabatedly. It continued thereby to suppress competition to the detriment of European consumers and businesses”.
According to the BBC, the antitrust commission is currently investigating four areas of Google’s business practices:
- the manner in which Google displays its own vertical search services compared with other, competing products
- how Google copies content from other websites – such as restaurant reviews – to include within its own services
- the exclusivity Google has to sell advertising around search terms people use
- restrictions on advertisers from moving their online ad campaigns to rival search engines.
All of Google’s concessions in the anti-trust investigation have thus far been scrapped. Google could face a fine of up to $5 billion as the dispute unfolds.
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