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Consumer Watchdog Urges European Parliament To Approve Call To Break Up Google

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John M. Simpson

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today urged the European Parliament to pass a resolution calling for the break-up of Google to end the Internet giant’s monopolistic dominance, a remedy that the U.S. public interest group proposed more than four years ago.

The Parliament is expected today to take up a motion calling for the unbundling of search engines from a company’s other commercial services.

“It’s long been clear that Google uses its search results to unfairly advantage its own services,” said John M. Simpson, Director of Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project. “We proposed the break-up remedy to the U.S. Department of Justice in April 2010.”

While the European Parliament doesn’t have the power to break up Google, Consumer Watchdog said passage of the resolution would increase pressure on the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, to take a tougher line on Google in its antitrust investigation of the company or through the introduction of laws to curb Google’s reach.

Under former Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia there were three proposed settlements of the Commission’s four-year antitrust probe of Google, all of which were determined to offer inadequate remedies.

Incoming Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is deciding what to next.

“The Commission should file a formal Statement of Objections,” said Simpson. “Breaking the Internet giant up into different companies according to the different lines of business is the way to go. We called for this back in 2010 and the need to do it has become even clearer as Google’s power has increased.”

Consumer Watchdog said letters on Tuesday from senior U.S. lawmakers expressing alarm about the European Parliament break-up resolution missed the point.

“Google got itself into this jam by its arrogant abuse of its tremendous power. I’m glad Europe’s parliamentarians see how dangerous Google is and are speaking out about it,” said Simpson. “U.S. consumers would be better served if our senators and congressmen did so too, instead of carrying Google’s water.”

Read Consumer Watchdog’s April 2010 news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-calls-justice-department-launch-antitrust-action-against-google-includ

“Such action could include breaking Google Inc. into multiple separate companies or regulating it as a public utility,” Consumer Watchdog’s 2010 letter to the Justice Department said. “Google exerts monopoly power over Internet searches, controlling 70 percent of the U.S. market.  For most Americans – indeed, for most people in the world – Google is the gateway to the Internet. How it tweaks its proprietary search algorithms can ensure a business’s success or doom it to failure.”

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