Google chairman Eric Schmidt meets EC competition chief ahead of charges


Google chairman Eric Schmidt meets EC competition chief ahead of charges

Warwick Ashford

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has met Europe's competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia amid reports the European Commission (EC) is preparing a 400-page document outlining Google's alleged anti-competitive practices.

If the EC finds Google guilty of abusing its dominant position in the market, the search company could face a fine of up to 10% of its annual turnover in the region, according to The Guardian.

The meeting between Eric Schmidt and Joaquín Almunia follows a meeting in January when the EC began looking into Google’s handling of competition in search and advertising.

The formal investigation into allegations that Google has abused its dominant position in online search in violation of European Union (EU) rules was announced at the end of November 2010.

Google is accused of using its dominance in the search market to favour Google services – such as Product Search and YouTube – at the expense of competitors.

The complaints that led to the investigation came from Ciao, a Microsoft-owned site; Foundem, a UK  search company; 1PlusV, which runs search engines in France; Euro-Cities, a German company offering online mapping; and two German industry groups representing newspapers and magazines.

In the US, Google is facing a similar investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. In the first round of hearings, Schmidt denied Google’s search algorithms were biased.

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