The European Commission opens a formal investigation into possible anticompetitive behaviour by Google. This mainly concerns the online advertising technology that the American company uses.
The EU wants to know whether Google has violated European competition rules by prioritizing its own services over those of competitors. Brussels is also looking at how Google handles data.
In particular, the investigation will examine whether Google reserved access to user data for advertising purposes on websites and apps only for its own use and did not grant third parties access to it. EU Commissioner Margrethe Versstager, who is in charge of competition policy, emphasizes that online advertisements are the core for Google, among others, to monetize online services.
Google collects data to use it for targeted advertising purposes; the group also sells advertising space and acts as an intermediary for online advertising.
“We are concerned that Google has made it more difficult for other online advertising services to compete with advertising services,” said Versstager. According to the European Commission, a level playing field is essential. That goes for advertisers to reach consumers, for consumers who want to reach publishers’ sites, and for publishers to sell their space to advertisers to generate revenue.
The duration of the investigation is not yet known. That depends on a number of factors, such as the complexity of the issue and the extent to which companies cooperate with the Commission.