Google's Antitrust Worries Won't Go Away Just By Paying Huge EU Fines

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2016-04-30 Print this article Print

Exactly how that will work out remains to be seen, but it's likely one of two things will happen. First, it may be possible that Google can continue to include its own browser and search on devices as long as it also allows other products with similar capabilities to be installed on the devices and made the default choice when the Android phone comes out of the box.

The other option is that Google will be forced to allow phone makers to include whatever browser and search engine the makers wish. Samsung, for example, might be allowed to include its own browser instead of Google’s or it might be allowed to include a third-party product in addition to Google’s. To the Europeans, the problem isn’t so much with Google’s products as it is that there’s no choice.

But Google won't be able to finally put these charges behind it even if it pays immense fines and agrees to all of the EU's settlement terms. That's because in the United States, the Federal Trade Commission is already talking with the company’s rivals and customers to determine whether Google is misusing its dominant position, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

The FTC investigation could easily turn into an antitrust case if the agency finds that Google is indeed misusing its position as the dominant provider of mobile operating software. This possibility should cause Google some real concern.

While the reality of Google’s situation depends on whom you believe, the fact is that Google has become widely mistrusted as a fair agent for handling information. The company has already admitted that it mines Gmail for advertising leads and it will target ads based on what users have browsed and searched for on the Web.

In addition, Google has been the target of a number of intellectual property actions with authors and publishers charging that Google has violated fair-use rules.

If anything, this is made worse by Google’s attempts to portray itself as a benevolent organization. While Google may not be as evil as some claim, the fact is that the company’s dominance in search has raised concern among many Web users and active opposition by a few.

It seems like the first thing Google needs to do is to stop pretending to be an innocent handler of information and admit to what it’s really up to. People aren’t going to stop using Google, but at least, they’ll know what to expect.



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