It seems like the European Union (EU) antitrust regulators aren't done looking into Google's business practices yet. The European Commission has launched a "preliminary investigation" into Google's data collection practices, Reuters reports.
According to a document seen by Reuters, the Commission is seeking details from several companies on how and why Google is collecting data from their services. The companies have been given a month to reply.
"The Commission has sent out questionnaires as part of a preliminary investigation into Google's practices relating to Google's collection and use of data. The preliminary investigation is ongoing," the EU regulator told Reuters in an email.
Google, meanwhile, said it uses data to improve its services. "We use data to make our services more useful and to show relevant advertising, and we give people the controls to manage, delete or transfer their data. We will continue to engage with the Commission and others on this important discussion for our industry," Google told Reuters in an email.
Google's antitrust woes may compound
In a fresh blow to Google, the European Commission has now turned to the web giant's partner companies seeking details on its data collection practices. The Commission, among other things, is seeking data related to local search, online advertising, online ad targeting, login services, and web browsers. Simply put, the European antitrust regulators are investigating Google's core business.
The companies have been asked to turn in details about "agreements providing data to Google or allowing it to collect data via their services in recent years". The regulators want to know the kind of data Google collects and whether they are compensated for this. Further, they are seeking details on how Google uses the collected data and how valuable the companies consider such data.
They also want to know whether the two parties are subject to contractual terms that "prohibit or limit the use of the data". The companies have also been asked whether Google has ever refused to provide data and how this affected them. The Commission did not reveal as to which companies have been sent questionnaires, though.
Google has been fined more than 8 billion euros by the EU in the last two years over several antitrust allegations. The company has also been asked to change its business practices. While an investigation doesn't necessarily guarantee that a case will be filed this time too, Google's business practices are such that it tends to end up in the receiving end more often than not. So it shouldn't be surprising if this investigation also leads to some serious problems for the Mountain View company.