Google is staring down the barrel of a gun that the European Union is pointing directly at their search engine business. The EU is continuing to pursue options to break up Google’s search business and turn the company into smaller, more manageable parts. To this point, the EU has accused Google of misleading their customers, manipulating them, and utilizing illegal advantages to make their search engine the biggest, and most powerful. Essentially, they’re being accused of driving traffic their way, while smaller search engines – even some bigger names like Bing, which is run by Microsoft – are left getting less and less traffic.
The notion that Google might be manipulating the results they show users isn’t something new for them to be accused of. Instead, this is actually one of the more natural things that have come about for Google. In the last 6-months specifically, the EU has been continuing to push the issue of search dominance, and has been working tirelessly to push Google in a direction that would make the search game fairer for the rest of the field.
While that might sound like a great idea to the average consumer, or even those other search engines, Google isn’t very happy about the EU’s plan. Interestingly though, the move would put Google in an awkward position, more than anything else. While they might be forced eventually to split their business off, to ensure that they are not creating a monopoly, that outcome isn’t entirely likely. It would also be a strange position for Google and regulators to be in because that ruling would only matter in the European Union’s zone. Outside of that zone, Google could conceivably continue operating as they currently are. Which might make the ruling feel somewhat pointless in the grand scheme of things.
However, while it might seem like a time to cheer for those who feel strongly about Google needing to separate their stakes – many have argued here in the U.S. that really what this amounts to is the EU attempting to protect their own companies, who have trouble competing with massive tech companies like Google. David Balto, formerly of the Federal Trade Commission pointed out that, “In defense of Google and Facebook, sometimes the European response here is more commercially driven than anything else.” He went on to say, “Their service providers who can’t compete with ours are essentially trying to set up some roadblocks for our companies to operate effectively there.”
No matter what the situation is though, there is certainly a level of politics that come with doing business in the EU zone, and ultimately this will be a matter of Google being held responsible as an “example,” for the time being.