The European Parliament voted to approve a motion calling for tougher regulation of searches performed online. The motion contained the suggestion to break up Google as a solution to the problem of its dominance in Europe. The motion passed as expected and now forces the European Commission to consider unbundling Google’s search business from its other areas of activity, including advertising.
The problem is that the European Parliament has no direct power to break up the company in such a manner. As a result, its calls to the European Commission have been regarded as politicalization of a regulatory issue. So, the resolution calls the European Commission to prevent any abuse in the marketing of interlinked services offered by the operators of search engines and to review the suggestions with the aim of unbundling search engines from other commercial services in the perspective.
After the reports of the motion were revealed a few days ago, its authors have tried to downplay the suggestion of a breakup or an unbundling of the tech giant, arguing that it was just one of suggested options. Among the authors of the motion there are the German conservative Andreas Schwab and Spanish liberal Ramon Tremosa. They claim that they are not ideological against Google, but are rather against monopolies.
It is known that Google currently accounts for over 90% of the search market in the region and therefore has become the subject of a long-running antitrust investigation with the European Commission. This investigation was recently re-opened after the European Commission rejected the Google’s settlement proposal.
However, Günther Oettinger, the commissioner in charge of the digital economy, was directly opposing the unbundling suggestion, saying that breaking and expropriation are not the measures that should be taken, as they would be inherent to the planned economy, not the market economy.
Finally, the tech giant remains subject to the “right to be forgotten” court ruling. The latter is currently seeing the pan-European data protection regulators call for search results to be removed from both google.com and local European domains of the search engine. It is known that the resolution in question also called for European countries to put an end to roaming charges inside the Union and provide more legal certainty as regards net neutrality.