Google is a company that operates all over the world in some capacity or other, and while they're based in the US, they make a lot of their money outside of the US, too. This has made Google a big, recognizable name in Europe, with countries like the United Kingdom, France and Germany becoming big parts of the Internet giant's overall strategy worldwide. Over the past couple of years however, Google has been facing mounting criticism from individual countries within the European Union, and more recently a laundry list of antitrust complaints straight from the EU Commission itself. Today, Margrethe Vestager has added to these with a new batch of complaints, this time going after Google's lucrative ad business.
In a number of objections, Vestager points the finger at Google and their AdSense ad service which now joins AdWords, saying that it hurt "competition and stifled choice and innovation to the detriment of consumers". Vestager argues that "magnificent innovation doesn't give you the right to deny others a fair chance to compete, innovate, and make it in these markets". The overall comments effectively take issue with the terms and conditions that someone looking to use AdSense must agree to, namely that they must agree to a set minimum of search ads from Google. In particular, comments from Vestager, such as third-parties needing "Google's approval before making any change to the display of competing search ads" paint Google's AdSense program as one that tries to put out the fire of competition, rather than see it grow.
Google has long been known to take care of Number One above all, and while this is something that every business does to some extent, the European Commission is unhappy with how Google seemingly refuses others to compete using their Search Engine. This includes the stipulation that "competing search ads cannot be placed above or next to Google search ads".
Back in 2009, Google made a number of changes to their AdSense terms and conditions, and it's possible that some of the complaints leveraged at Google are somewhat out of date. As always, Google has 10 weeks to make a detailed response to the Commission, and while there has been no official comment from Google just yet, the Google in Brussels Twitter handle has responded, briefly. It has said that "we’ll examine the Commission’s renewed cases and provide a detailed response in the coming weeks" as well of course defending their innovation on Search and other products as being beneficial to consumers. It is beginning to appear as though the European Commission is after one of only two things from Google; change or money. Antitrust complaints like these are often settled with a little of both, but Google has been allowed to operate as they have been doing for years now, which makes it hard to believe the European Union isn't just out for money. Regardless of their true motives, the Antitrust complaints and investigations are ongoing, and nothing has been decided, meaning that we can only wait and see just what becomes of Google in any decisions made by the EU.