Internet search companies like Google should be broken up, the European parliament has suggested. Members of the European parliament (MEPs) have said that action needs to be taken to ensure that search engines are detached from other services provided by internet companies.
No specific search engine company was mentioned, but Google is thought to hold 90 per cent of the market share in Europe. Although politicians don’t currently have the power to break up companies like Google, the vote has put pressure on European regulators to take action against the firm.
The vote came as part of the European Commission’s continuing investigation into Google, after rivals lodged an anti-competitive case against the Internet giant in 2010.
They asked for four areas to be investigated, including the way Google copies content from other sites to use it within its own services and how it displays its own search services compared with competitors’ products.
[themecolor]Action unlikely due to lack of precedent[/themecolor]
EU competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, who has inherited the case, will make the final decision after her predecessor, Joaquin Almunia, failed to reach a settlement. He believed that the only solution would be a fine of up to $5 billion (around £3.19 billion).
Politicians are keen to find a solution, but many experts think that it’s unlikely the Commission will order the breakup of Google, as it has never ordered any other company to do so before.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association has criticised the idea of a break-up, calling the solution “extreme and unworkable”. It claimed the Commission is suggesting that all search companies should have their businesses separated, which is an unreasonable thing to ask in a rapidly changing online market.
An EU data protection group also recently said that the ‘right to be forgotten’ law should be expanded further to include .com domains.