Google faces yet more objections to its shopping comparison business after the European Commission (EC) added more evidence to its charges against the company.
The EC issued an initial Statement of Objections against Google in April last year, accusing the company of favouring its own shopping comparison results at the expense of rivals'.
Reports have said that Google faces a fine as high as €3bn if the EC decides that there is sufficient evidence.
Now, in an update to those objections, the EC has submitted more information that it said adds weight to this claim.
The EC explained that it has further evidence that Google promotes its own services at the expense of rivals' to the “detriment of consumers” and that this “stifles innovation”.
The EC does not agree with Google’s claim that shopping comparison services should not be considered a standalone market, arguing that they are and that Google’s actions have “weakened or even marginalised competition from its closest rivals".
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, explained that the additional Statement of Objections underlines the EC's belief that Google has acted unfairly to promote its own services.
"Today, we have further strengthened our case that Google has unduly favoured its own comparison shopping service in its general search result pages. It means consumers may not see the most relevant results to their search queries," she said.
"We have also raised concerns that Google has hindered competition by limiting the ability of its competitors to place search adverts on third-party websites, which stifles consumer choice and innovation."
Google and its parent company Alphabet now have eight weeks to respond to the supplementary objections raised by the EC.
In response Google explained that it will consider the EC's claims and respond in due course.
“We believe that our innovations and product improvements have increased choice for European consumers and promote competition. We’ll examine the Commission’s renewed cases and provide a detailed response in the coming weeks,” the firm said.
The additional charge filed by the EC was welcomed by Shivaun Raff, CEO of Foundem, the company that brought the initial case against Google, who said it underlined just how unfairly Google had acted.
"Today's Supplementary Statement of Objections to Google, reinforcing the Commission’s preliminary conclusion that Google has abused its dominant position by systematically favouring its comparison shopping service in its search result pages, is another decisive step towards restoring the level playing field required for competition and innovation to thrive," he said.
However, Raff urged the EC to act as quickly as it can, warning that it may be too late to stop rivals to Google going out of business if the system is not changed quickly.
“While the Commission is clearly heading towards a robust Prohibition Decision, we are concerned that if it does not act conclusively in the near future there may be little competition left to protect,” he said.
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