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European Union’s Parliament Vote to Break Up Google Search and Other Services

November 27, 2014 - Written By David Steele

Earlier in the week, we wrote about why the European Union wants to split off the Google Search Engine from the rest of the business. The European Union Parliament have today voted on the issue, which was pushed through on a majority of 384 votes. 174 disagreed and 56 chose to abstain. The motion states the importance of “the need to prevent online companies from abusing dominant positions. It also recommends the “unbundling (of) search engines from other commercial services.” This is because Google favors its own products and services when users run a Google Search and Parliament believes this could damage competitiveness within the European Union. The European Union has just released a report stating that  “the online search market is of particular importance in ensuring competitive conditions within the digital single market” and welcomes the Commission’s pledge to investigate search engines’ practices. They’re looking into how Google – and the other search engines – position their business models and how they interact with customers. This is all under the reckoning that the digital single market could generate an additional €260 billion a year for the EU economy. We are to suppose that the European Union believe Google is a threat to this profitability.

There are two reasons why this report is of interest to Google, but not necessarily any big thing yet. The first is that the European Parliament has no jurisdiction interfering with Google, an American company. The EU can ask Google to do something rather than tell, which means Google can simply say “no” and walk away. Likewise, the European Parliament cannot tell member states what to do but instead provides a strong message and steering for the individual countries. These countries can tell Google what to do (in their boundaries). So far, Google has declined to comment, but there’s little that it can say at this juncture anyway. When, or if, these recommendations start to be written in policy; then we can expect the big G to make comment.

Other news included the desire to ban international roaming costs within the European Union and confirmation of net neutrality; that all Internet data should be considered the equal of other data. But I believe it’s interesting to note how a business that makes a living through selling advertising in the new era can modify its business model for certain countries or regions of the world. Does this mean we will have to opt-in to use Google on our Android device? Might that mean we’ll see a Bing search bar instead of a Google search bar on Nexus devices (okay, okay, I’m a bully picking on the poor little Bing search engine)? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.