The European Union has been investigating the activities of Google for a while. The Union is strongly against monopolization and it has reasons to believe that Google is violating its laws in many ways. A recent questionnaire shows that the European Union is now seeking information on Google’s activities from its competitors. The questionnaire focuses on whether Google is cracking down on local search competitors in an unfair manner. This move could lead to a fourth lawsuit against Google.
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In the past 17 months, Google has been fined 6.76 billion euros for multiple offenses including Google’s preference for independent price search services and the use of the dominant Android system to enhance its own search engine. At the same time, the European Commission is still launching a third case involving Google’s AdSense advertising service.
Last month, EU regulators sent a questionnaire to Google’s competitors to try to understand Google’s practices and its impact on competitors’ services between 2012 and December 2017. The regulators also want to know if Google’s local service operations have been affected by major changes to search algorithms, including the introduction of the Panda 4.0 algorithm. The Panda 4.0 algorithm was launched in 2014 to determine content in Google search results.
In addition, the questionnaire also asked whether Google’s Local Universal and One Box had a substantial impact on other companies’ local search services. Local Universal’s goal is advertising, and One Box helps local businesses to optimize visualizations in Google search results. This tool can display information and images in a message box. Other questions raised by the European Commission include whether Google uses content from competitors’ local search services, such as user reviews, in Local Universal or One Box.