The European Parliament is preparing a non-binding resolution that proposes splitting Google Inc’s search engine operations in Europe from the rest of its business as one possible option to rein in the Internet company’s dominance in the search market.
European politicians have grown increasingly concerned about Google’s and other American companies’ command of the Internet industry, and have sought ways to curb their power. A public call for a break-up would be the most far-reaching action proposed and a significant threat to Google’s business.
The draft motion does not mention Google or any specific search engine, though Google is by far the dominant provider of such services in Europe with an estimated 90 per cent market share. Earlier on Friday, the Financial Times described a draft motion as calling for a break-up of Google.Google declined to comment.
The motion seen by Reuters “calls on the Commission to consider proposals with the aim of unbundling search engines from other commercial services as one potential long-term solution” to leveling the competitive playing field.
Parliament has no power to initiate legislation and lacks the authority to break up corporations, and while the draft motion is a non-binding resolution, it would step up the pressure on the European Commission to act against Google.
Google already faces stern criticism in Europe about everything from privacy to tax policies, and has been wrestling with a European court’s ruling that requires it to remove links from search results that individuals find objectionable.
The company has grown so large as to inspire distrust in many corners, with a chorus of public criticism from politicians and business executives.
“It’s a strong expression of the fact that things are going to change,” said Gary Reback, a US attorney who has filed complaints on behalf of companies against Google over fair search. “The parliament doesn’t bind the commission for sure, but they have to listen.”
Europe’s new antitrust chief said she would take some time to decide on the next step of the four-year investigation into the Internet search leader, after her predecessor had scrapped a proposed settlement with the company.