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MEPs approve resolution to split Google search from its other services

Fri 28 Nov 2014

The European Parliament voted yesterday in support of a resolution to split up search engines from their other commercial services.

The resolution hopes to see a breaking up of the online search market dominated by tech giants accused of abusing their control and thus “ensuring competitive conditions.”

According to figures released by the EU, the digital single market could generate a further €260bn annually for the EU economy. However, the non-legislative text warns that obstacles to this potential will continue to present themselves if something is not done to tackle market fragmentation, lack of interoperability, and inequalities in access to technology.

This non-enforceable vote will work as a guideline for European Union regulators more than a mandate that EU members must comply with. However, the resolution highlights a clear desire for the European Commission to “prevent any abuse” linked with bundled services provided by search engine operators.

The resolution, which was passed with 384 votes to 174 (56 abstentions), could affect all search engines and while it does not specifically refer to Google, it clearly points to the search giant’s huge 90% share of the market. With the four-year probe into Google’s search and advertising activity, the resolution reinforces the EU’s commitment to net neutrality and ensuring that “all internet traffic should be treated equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference.”

However, legal experts have argued that a complete breakup of Google in Europe would be extremely unlikely. “Breaking up Google would be unprecedented in all kinds of ways […] in absence of massive, proven consumer harm — and it’s very unclear to me whether the commission is going to find that harm,” explained Mario Mariniello, research analyst at Bruegel.

In addition to outlining suggestions for the search engine market, the European Parliament approved measures that call on the Commission “to take the lead in promoting international standards and specifications for cloud computing,” ensuring its privacy, security, reliability, accessibility, and energy efficiency.

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