The EU accuses Google of distorting internet search results and launches an investigation into its Android mobile operating system. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION The European Union accused Google Inc on Wednesday (April 15) of cheating competitors by distorting Internet search results in favour of its Google Shopping service and also launched an antitrust probe into its Android mobile operating system. In a statement, Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the U.S. tech giant, which dominates Internet search engines globally, had been sent a Statement of Objections -- effectively a charge sheet -- to which it can respond. "Today we have adopted a statement of objection to Google. It outlines our preliminary view that Google's favourable treatment of its shopping service - you probably know it as Google Shopping - is an abuse of Google's dominant position in general search. Google now has ten weeks to respond and of course I will carefully consider the response before deciding how to proceed," she said. "The Commission also today have launched an in-depth formal investigation of Google's conduct as regards the mobile operating system Android, apps and services. My goal is to ensure that consumers and innovative companies can benefit from a competitive environment in Europe," she added. If it finds that companies are abusing a dominant market position, the EU regulator can also demand sweeping changes to their business practices, as it did with U.S. software giant Microsoft in 2004 and chip-maker Intel in 2009. There was no immediate public response from Google, but an internal memo to staff published by the blog re/code described the moves as "very disappointing news" and said: "We have a very strong case, with especially good arguments when it comes to better services for users and increased competition." Of the formal investigation into Android, used on smart phones and tablets, Vestager said she wanted to make sure the markets in this area could flourish without anticompetitive constraints imposed by any company. She announced the moves on the eve of a high-profile visit to the United States, following five years of investigation and abortive efforts to strike a deal with Google by her Spanish predecessor, Joaquin Almunia, who handed over the politically charged dossier to the Danish liberal in November. However, the focus on the ranking of searches for shopping sites - Google has its own service called Google Shopping - did not address all the complaints lodged with the Commission by competitors, large and small, in Europe and the United States, who say Google has hurt their business. Google initially has 10 weeks to respond to the charges and can demand a hearing. A final resolution, possibly involving court action if Google does not choose to settle, is likely to take many months and probably years.