When you try to take down Google, you better bring your A game.
The European Commission (EC) is finding this out as they work their way through a legal battle with Google, in which the EC is claiming Google is violating antitrust laws by making its search engine favor the company’s own shopping service, according to a report on Business Standard published earlier today.
Furthermore, European publications allege that Google is stealing profits by publishing snippets of their stories on Google News. Publishers want a “Google tax” to be placed on the company for any EU-based articles that show up in the search engine’s news portal.
Google is arguing that they are not a utility like gas or water or electricity, and therefore are not legally required to provide the same services to all businesses.
The tech giant may have the EU population on their side. Google Shopping has proven to save UK customers 2.9 percent when compared to “top-ranked retailers in its search results”, one pro-EU think tank was quoted as having said.
Despite the advantage to UK customers, Google’s search engine may be costing consumers the power of choice. Auctions for Google ad space have reached “exorbitant highs,” pushing out smaller business who can’t come up with the cash “marketing firepower.”
That makes it less likely that customers will access bespoke products or services from companies that may be superior, but have less marketing firepower.
However, Fortune pointed out that European publishers and news sites are putting themselves in harm’s way.
When Spain decided to impose a Google tax on their news content, Google pulled Spain from its news index “completely,” resulting in “20% overnight” traffic reductions.
Traffic to Spanish news sites, including large traditional publishers, dropped by more than 20% overnight. Some smaller news sites actually had to shut down.
Spain wasn’t the first country to test the so-called “Google tax.” Both Belgium and France took their five stones to the giant’s forehead, only to reconcile afterwards.