Google has faced a number of claims that it is monopolizing the Internet. It has also faced claims of unfair competition in relation to Android, and for several years there have been suits in Europe. Now the European Parliament has issued a non-binding resolution that calls for Google to unbundle its search from its other commercial operations.
The Parliament voted in favor of the resolution to separate search engines from their economic activities, and while Google was not explicitly named, the company is the clear target of this legislation.
“Monopolies in whatever market have never been useful, neither for consumers nor for the companies,” said Andreas Schwab, a German conservative lawmaker, and the bill’s co-sponsor.
“MEPs also call on the Commission ‘to consider proposals with the aim of unbundling search engines from other commercial services’ in the long run,” states one portion of the bill, which is reportedly a comprehensive piece of legislation that also aims to fast-track new rules for telecom companies and contains new standards for cloud computing.
While the directive to break up Google is not legally binding, it could be considered a first step. Once the Parliament makes a recommendation like this, its up to the member states of the EU to choose if they want to act on it, or the European Commission could draft legislation that will change how companies operate in Europe. The EU has taken action against search engines before, so there’s reason to believe that Google may have trouble in Europe in the future.
The legislation also uses the term “Gatekeepers” in relation to search engines, which means the Parliament is concerned about Google violating the principles of net neutrality. It’s is a fair point given that Google captures 90 percent of all search engine requests in Europe. The legislation also lays the groundwork for a four year antitrust investigation into Google, so there may be some rocky times ahead for the company.