Alphabet, and particularly their core businesses arm, Google, has run afoul of antitrust regulators the world over both in the past and recently. Heads have been butted over things like anti-competitive practices with search, bundling practices with Android and dominance practices with other internet services they offer. The European Union seems particularly displeased with Google at the moment, in the face of a controversial international tax scandal to top off the antitrust matters. The chief of antitrust regulatory affairs for the European Union, Margrethe Vestager, specifically called out Google for boxing out rivals in favor of sponsored results when users took to Google's search service to do some online shopping. In order to address this matter in a concrete fashion, Google CEO Sundar Pichai will be meeting personally with Vestager on Thursday, February 25. According to two insiders who spoke with Reuters, the meeting will be introductory in nature.
Google's antitrust troubles in Europe at the moment are of particular concern, with talk of fines around $6 billion being completely within the realm of possibility, unlikely though that may be. To add insult to injury, many of Google's rivals, such as Microsoft, are joining in with the European Union to really make this sting. Even people and entities outside the tech sphere, such as U.S. law firm Hausfield, are jumping on the bandwagon. Many have taken this as a chance to rally all those who Google's practices may have short-changed, a call to arms of sorts, to evaluate goings-on and statements made, and submit information as needed to shift the balance out of Google's favor in the matter.
On the flip side of the rather scary coin, Google has said in the past that the information being used to pursue this antitrust suit and fine is "wrong as a matter of fact, law and economics". Their stance is that the European Union's antitrust board is making a mountain out of a molehill and, though some results make it to the top of the heap for certain reasons while others don't, there is nothing anti-competitive or illegal going on. With Vestager having personally called out Google, next week's meeting between her and Pichai will likely set the tone for the entire proceedings.