EC Issues Record Fine In Google Shopping Case; CCIA Concerned About Chilling Effect On Innovation

BY Heather Greenfield
June 27, 2017

Brussels, BELGIUM — The European Commission announced a record fine today. Its antitrust investigation began seven years ago after some online price comparison sites complained Google favored its own service in search results. Today the Commission decided that the prominent placement of Google’s own comparison shopping service in search results constitutes abuse of a dominant position. It demands Google give ‘equal treatment’ to rival comparison shopping services.

If Google appeals the Decision, it will be up to the European Court of Justice to determine whether the Commission was correct in ignoring a broader view of the online shopping market in reaching its findings.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association has advocated for competitive markets and voiced opinions on tech industry competition issues since 1972, and Google is now a member of the trade association.

The following can be attributed to CCIA Europe Director Jakob Kucharczyk:

“The Commission’s Decision marks a worrying step away from the key objectives of competition law enforcement. Companies should not be punished for introducing innovative products that consumers and advertisers value. Providing direct answers to users’ search queries is unquestionably a product improvement. All major search engines do it. Courts and competition authorities around the globe have found that there are procompetitive justifications for such product improvements.”

“It seems the Commission’s case is mainly focused on competitors who disagree with Google competing on the merits. We fail to see the evidence for consumer harm and for quality-related product degradation. If the result of this investigation is to force Google to undo more than ten years of search engine evolution, EU competition enforcement would clearly not live up to its promise of spurring innovation.”

“Leaving aside the Commission’s very narrow market definitions, Europe’s e-commerce sector is thriving. The success of companies like Zalando, Asos or Trivago show consumers have increasing choices to find, compare and buy products online. Investments into e-commerce ventures have steadily increased. All of that is not indicative of a market suppressed by a dominant player.”

Related Articles

Product and AI Liability: Updating EU Rules for Digital Age Requires Balanced Approach

Sep 28, 2022

Brussels, BELGIUM — Today, the European Commission presented its new Artificial Intelligence (AI) Liability Directive and proposed a revision of the EU Product Liability Directive (PLD). With these initiatives the Commission wants to bring Europe’s product liability regime and consumer protection into the digital era. The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA Europe) commends the…

CCIA Recommendations on Canada’s Online News Act Ahead of Committee Hearing

Sep 23, 2022

Washington — The Heritage Committee in the House of Commons of Canada will meet at a  hearing on Friday afternoon to discuss Bill C-18, dubbed “the Online News Act.” The bill would require large “digital news intermediaries” including search engines and social media platforms to pay Canadian news companies to index their content or to…

European Media Freedom Act: Fight Against Disinformation and Illegal Content Requires Balanced Relationship Between Media and Online Platforms

Sep 16, 2022

Brussels, BELGIUM — The European Media Freedom Act presented by the European Commission earlier today seeks to introduce new rules to safeguard the independence and pluralism of Europe’s media. The “must-carry” obligation included in the proposal, however, could be abused to force social media and other online platforms to spread disinformation or illegal content, the…