Within the next few weeks, the European Union (EU) will file antitrust charges against Google, which could result in a fine of up to $6 billion, the Wall Street Journal reports.
European Union antitrust officials have been looking into confidential complaints claiming Google is tweaking its algorithm to display its own products ahead of competitors’ in European search results.
To strengthen its case against the search giant, the European Commission has been asking for permission from companies to publish their confidential complaints.
Once the EU files charges, years of further investigation will follow. If Google and the EU end up not being able to reach a settlement, Google could then face fines and penalties. The EU would also be able to impose restrictions on Google’s behavior in Europe.
The European Commission is seeking to fine Google up to 10% of annual revenues — based on the previous year’s numbers that would amount to more than $6 billion. Google would of course have the right to appeal this case to the highest European court.
Regardless of the eventual outcome, which is likely years down the road, there’s no positive spin to put on this. If nothing else, the lengthy legal battle will be a huge distraction for Google, as it is for any company facing antitrust charges.
Google was recently the subject of criticism in the United States after the Federal Trade Commission released a document detailing how Google ranks its own properties in search results ahead of competitors.
However, unlike in Europe, Google has the right to display search results however it wants in the US, which is not the case in Europe. Google is subject to tighter regulations in Europe, which is why the investigation against the company has escalated as far as it has.