Consumer Watchdog today called on the European Commission to file a formal Statement of Objections against Google in the nearly three-year-old antitrust investigation of the Internet giant and said Google's latest settlement offer was an attempt to stall the investigation.
In a letter
to Joaquin Almunia, Vice President of the European
Commission and Commissioner for Competition, John M. Simpson, Consumer
Watchdog's Privacy Project director, wrote:
"If Google's executives were genuinely interested in settling the case in a
way that benefits consumers, they would have made their proposals public.
This latest so-called settlement offer is nothing more than an attempt to
run out the clock on an investigation that has dragged on for nearly three
A commission spokesman confirmed on Monday that a new settlement proposal
had been received from Google and was being analyzed. The proposal was not
Consumer Watchdog said a "market test" of Google?s settlement offer made
last April, demonstrated that the supposed remedies offered then by the
Internet giant would in fact have continued to harm consumer welfare,
stifled innovation and restricted competition in Internet search services.
Some of the proposals would likely have actually strengthened Google's
stranglehold on the market.
"Google has a long history of stalling and delaying serious and necessary
efforts to regulate its business activities, while claiming to work with the
authorities," wrote Simpson. "Based on that record, we cannot believe the
latest offer is anything more than an attempt to obfuscate and delay."
The letter concluded:
"The problem with allowing Google to continue this process is that we are
not talking about hypothetical economic issues. Rather, Google's ongoing
business practices that take unfair advantage of its monopolistic position
are damaging competitors and consumers in the real world. Three years is
more than enough time to understand what Google has been doing that is
illegal and to understand that their "settlement proposals" are nothing more
than delaying tactics. We urge the Commission to issue a Statement of
Objections immediately. It is the only way that Google will engage in a
serious effort to settle the case."