EU’s Antitrust Probes of Big Tech Aren’t Over, Vestager Says
A European Union antitrust crackdown on big technology firms is “definitely not done yet,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told Bloomberg TV, citing probes into Amazon.com Inc. and Google.
“We have a probe into the Amazon use of data because they both host a lot of businesses but they also compete against those businesses themselves. We want to figure out if this a fair use of data,” she said in an interview. On Google, “we’re still looking into the question” of searches for jobs and local services.
Vestager shut down her last big Google case in March with a 1.49 billion euro ($1.7 billion) fine that helped to pull down owner Alphabet Inc.’s earnings. She’s fined the U.S. giant 8.2 billion euros and demanded changes over how it displays rival shopping search results and how it distributes its apps for Android mobile phones. Google risks more fines if it doesn’t make changes that trigger more competition.
How online giants handle smaller firms they host on their platforms is a big focus for the EU. Regulators quizzed local search and travel providers last year to ask how traffic to their sites rose or fell when Google made changes to its search algorithm. Hotel and flight reservation services have pushed the EU to check whether Google diverts search traffic to its own services.
Amazon may be the EU’s next target. Vestager has said she expects to move forward with the probe, which is currently labeled as a preliminary investigation, later this year after regulators finish sifting through evidence they’ve sought from hundreds of retailers that use the platform.
The next step, if any, would be to open a formal investigation. Vestager didn’t mention Apple Inc. in the interview, which may also face antitrust trouble if the EU backs a Spotify Technology SA complaint over how the iPhone maker takes a cut of sales on its App store.
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