Commish: Pssst, wanna see that Google chargesheet?
This stays between us, right, at least until the first media leak
Google’s rivals will be given a tiny, sneak preview of the charges ranged against the search monster in the coming weeks, sources have confirmed to The Register.
The Commission is, as always, cagey about the details, so complainants in the ongoing anti-trust case will be given only a redacted version of the Statement of Objections sent to the Chocolate Factory in April.
After years of investigations, the Commission finally reached the conclusion that Google has abused its position within general internet search services by systematically favouring its own comparison shopping product in its general results pages.
“I am confident that Google has artificially boosted its position in the search results so that users do not see what is most relevant for them to see,” said the EU’s anti-trust commissioner Margrethe Vestager as she took the first official step towards fining the company.
Now around 20 complainants will get to see Vestager’s concerns in detail. However, they won’t be allowed to tell anyone.
The sternly worded email asked rivals to sign documents promising not to use the (redacted) Statement of Objections “for any purposes other than judicial or administrative proceedings”. In particular, it must not be shared “either in full or in part, with journalists or media”.
Given that Brussels is a notoriously leaky ship, it seems unlikely that the Commish will really be able to keep the chargesheet under wraps. But as a last-ditch veiled threat, it reminded potential recipients that each copy would be marked with their name.
Meanwhile, Google was given until July 7 to tell its side of the story, but is understood to have asked for an extension.
In a response published in mid April, Google argued that although it may be the "most used search engine, people can now find and access information in numerous different ways ... allegations of harm, for consumers and competitors, have proved to be wide of the mark".
"We respectfully but strongly disagree with the need to issue a Statement of Objections and look forward to making our case over the weeks ahead," it added.®