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Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Consumer Watchdog Urges European Commission To Charge Google In Antitrust Probe

Consumer Watchdog today called on the European Commission to file a formal Statement of Objections against Google in the nearly three-year-old antitrust investigation of the Internet giant and said Google's latest settlement offer was an attempt to stall the investigation.

In a letter to Joaquin Almunia, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Competition, John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project director, wrote:

"If Google's executives were genuinely interested in settling the case in a way that benefits consumers, they would have made their proposals public. This latest so-called settlement offer is nothing more than an attempt to run out the clock on an investigation that has dragged on for nearly three years."

A commission spokesman confirmed on Monday that a new settlement proposal had been received from Google and was being analyzed. The proposal was not made public.

Consumer Watchdog said a "market test" of Google?s settlement offer made last April, demonstrated that the supposed remedies offered then by the Internet giant would in fact have continued to harm consumer welfare, stifled innovation and restricted competition in Internet search services. Some of the proposals would likely have actually strengthened Google's stranglehold on the market.

"Google has a long history of stalling and delaying serious and necessary efforts to regulate its business activities, while claiming to work with the authorities," wrote Simpson. "Based on that record, we cannot believe the latest offer is anything more than an attempt to obfuscate and delay."

The letter concluded:

"The problem with allowing Google to continue this process is that we are not talking about hypothetical economic issues. Rather, Google's ongoing business practices that take unfair advantage of its monopolistic position are damaging competitors and consumers in the real world. Three years is more than enough time to understand what Google has been doing that is illegal and to understand that their "settlement proposals" are nothing more than delaying tactics. We urge the Commission to issue a Statement of Objections immediately. It is the only way that Google will engage in a serious effort to settle the case."

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