EU Lawmakers Urge Antitrust Regulators to Get Tough on Google

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EU Lawmakers Urge Antitrust Regulators to Get Tough on Google

European Union lawmakers overwhelmingly backed a motion on Thursday urging antitrust regulators to get tough on Google and other Internet search engines and consider breaking them up.

The resolution in the European Parliament (EP), the strongest public signal of Europe's concern with the growing power of U.S. tech giants, was passed with 384 votes for versus 174 against.

"Clear adoption by EP of digital single market motion, including unbundling for search engine if needed," Spanish liberal lawmaker and co-sponsor of the bill, Ramon Tremosa said on Twitter.

The resolution did 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 percent market share.

The lawmakers called on the Commission, in charge of enforcing fair competition in the European Union, to consider proposals with the aim of unbundling search engines from other commercial services.

While the legislature has no power in the matter, the call to the Commission is intended to increase pressure on new antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager to act quickly.

Google is the target of a four-year investigation by the Commission, triggered by complaints from Microsoft, Expedia, European publishers and others that it promotes its services at their expense.

However, technology lobbying group Computer & Communications Industry Association, whose members include Google, eBay Facebook, Microsoft and Samsung, said unbundling was an "extreme and unworkable" solution that made no sense in rapidly changing online markets.

"While clearly targeting Google, the parliament is in fact suggesting all search companies, or online companies with a search facility, may need to be separated. This is of great concern as we try to create a digital single market," it said.

© Thomson Reuters 2014

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