In an effort to soften the European Commission's inquiry into business practices, Google has claimed that those bringing charges against it do not fully understand antitrust law.
Kent Walker, senior VP and general counsel, took to the company's corporate blog to respond to the commission's concerns over how it has prevented rival sites and services from competing in the areas of online advertising and sales. In his blog post, Walker was quick to point out that the Commission had failed to acknowledge the role that Amazon plays in how consumers shop online.
Google's comparison shopping engine, “Shopping” is currently under investigation in the EU for the way in which it makes it more difficult for competing sites to attract users due to the large user base that the search engine currently has. Though the company sees Amazon as a rival, the Commission does not believe that it can even be considered one as it has paid other shopping comparison sites for referrals in the past.
Walker went on to claim that the reason online shopping has evolved into what it is today is as a direct result of competition, saying: "All of these services – search engines, price comparison sites, merchant platforms, and merchants – compete with each other in online shopping. That's why online shopping is so dynamic and has grown so much in recent years.”
FairSearch, which represents the search companies that claim to have been affected by Google's efforts in the area, has released a statement in which its counsel Thomas Vinje argues that the company used its market power unfairly and for its own gain, saying: “We believe it is the European Commission that has the interests of consumers in mind, not a private company that makes money by using its market power to charge high prices to advertisers. When consumers look at Google ads they do not get the best, most relevant results. Instead, they get the results from advertisers willing to pay Google the most money.”
While Google may have been trying to defend itself by releasing its statement, it seems that the company has only given its accusers more reasons to criticise its business practices.
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