European Parliament votes for Google break-up resolution

November 28, 2014 // 11:26 a.m.

Tags: #advertising #anti-competitive #anti-trust #europe #european-commission #european-parliament #google #law #legal #monopoly #privacy #search

The European Parliament has approved of a resolution which calls in so many words for advertising giant Google to be broken up in the region, as the region's four-year investigation into the company's alleged monopoly continues.

While most know Google as a search engine, the company's vast profits are generated through advertising revenue. Its 'free' services, which include operating systems, productivity software, email and search among others, are used in service of the company's main business of advertising: as well as displaying its advertising directly on its product pages, the company openly harvests data from users - including location information and the contents of all emails sent, received or stored via its Gmail system - which it can use to offer more closely-targeted advertising campaigns to its real customers.

Earlier this week, the European Parliament was presented with a request to 'consider proposals with the aim of unbundling search engines from other commercial services.' While Google was not named directly in the proposal, it is the main target nevertheless - and the resolution comes four years into the European Commission's investigation into the company's alleged monopoly and anti-competitive practices in the region, where its search services hold a 90 per cent plus market share.

Yesterday, the European Parliament voted on the resolution and came out overwhelmingly in favour. According to figures compiled by the Wall Street Journal, 384 votes were counted in favour of the resolution while just 174 voted against, with 56 abstaining. The votes came despite - or, potentially, due to - last-minute intervention by the US Congress, which warned of the potential risks involved in 'politicising' the region's anti-trust investigation.

The vote doesn't mean Google actually will be broken up in the region, however. The European Parliament resolution no direct control over the European Commission, which handles monopoly investigations in the region. It does, however, put additional pressure on the EC to complete its investigation into Google's practices in the region and, if necessary, take punitive action against it.
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