Posted in Menacing Monopoly

European Parliament: Google should be broken up

Google has gotten too big for its own good and the good of everyone else, European leaders say:

The European Parliament has voted in favour of breaking Google up, as a solution to complaints that it favours its own services in search results.

Politicians have no power to enforce a break-up, but the landmark vote sends a clear message to European regulators to get tough on the net giant.

US politicians and trade bodies have voiced their dismay at the vote.

The ultimate decision will rest with EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

She has inherited the anti-competitive case lodged by Google’s rivals in 2010.

Google has around 90% market share for search in Europe and rivals asked the commission to investigate four areas:

  • The manner in which Google displays its own vertical search services compared with other, competing products
  • How Google copies content from other websites – such as restaurant reviews – to include within its own services
  • The exclusivity Google has to sell advertising around the search terms people use
  • Restrictions on advertisers from moving their online ad campaigns to rival search engines

Emphasis is LGB’s.

This is a smart and commendable move on the part of the European Parliament. Someone has to stand up to the increasingly powerful Monster of Mountain View. The government of the country where Google is based is unwilling to do anything more than slap Google on the wrist every now and then (usually when privacy violations become too egregious to ignore), so it’s good that Europe is stepping up.

There is ample precedent for large companies being broken up. The United States government forced the breakup of AT&T, Standard Oil, and other large firms during the twentieth century. Microsoft came close to being broken up at the end of the 1990s and is used to responding to antitrust challenges.

Google is increasingly everyone’s competitor. Microsoft has known this for a long time; Apple and Amazon have only more recently begun to appreciate how grand Google’s ambitions and aims are. Google wants to be the dominant provider of search, email, social networking, DNS resolution, maps, domain names, web browsing software, mobile phone software, cloud storage, and a zillion other things.

Google has gotten too big and the world would benefit from its breakup.