As the EU files an antitrust complaint against Google, is its dominance actually dangerous?

Google is accused of infringing the EU's antitrust laws (Source: Getty)

Steve Kuncewicz, a media lawyer at Bermans, says Yes

Much as the public may not really care about how their search results are presented to them, Google’s ubiquity may be about more than it just being the best at what it does. This case turns on how Google presents search results relating to its competitors, and the alleged manipulation of a platform upon which the vast majority of internet users depends on a daily basis.

Although the man in the street may not realise the far-reaching ramifications, businesses trying to compete with Google and its products are only too aware of the effect that having the “only game in town” setting its own rules on how businesses are found online can have upon them.

What Google is accused of is stifling competition through the abuse of a dominant position. As much as the US authorities allowed it to escape censure, its tech may have outpaced the law in some respects up until now – but that may change sooner rather than later.

Charlotte Bowyer, digital policy researcher at the Adam Smith Institute, says No

There’s no denying that Google’s empire is vast. But the question is whether the prioritisation of its own services within search is actually bad for consumers. Many rival facilities exist, yet despite heavy investment and the promotion of services like Yahoo’s Bing, EU consumers just aren’t that interested. This suggests that people simply find Google’s search function superior, or enjoy the efficiency of its integrated services.

But the way in which we access information and entertainment is evolving. Personal Assistant services like Siri are designed to compete with traditional search, while consumers are increasingly turning “in-app” to services like Facebook, Instagram and even Snapchat for news and recommendations.

Many once-popular services and tech companies fall out of favour with time. With so many alternatives out there, there’s no reason to assume that Google’s current dominance is anti-competitive, or even guaranteed to continue.

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