If Google had been hoping that the European Union would back off on its pursuit of proving that it's anti-competitive, it appears that the company hasn't been hoping hard enough. Today, the EU shot another set of charges at Google for anti-competitive practices, this time squarely targeting its AdSense for Search platform.
Previous antitrust charges against Google have involved Android, search, and shopping, with this third set expanding on the latter two. Anyone who's ever browsed the internet will have likely passed by an AdSense advertisement, as they're simply everywhere.
We reinforce Google case on search/shopping comparison with new, strong evidence and send statement of objections t Google on search adverts— Margrethe Vestager (@vestager) July 14, 2016
AdSense ads can come in many different forms, with the EU specifically targeting search boxes that websites can choose to add for the sake of ease, and of course, monetization. It goes without saying that Google's search is going to be better than most solutions, so it's not just good to help a site earn revenue, it's also useful to the reader.
Google providing a search box as such isn't the problem here; instead, the problem is that the EU believes Google has been anticompetitive in the results it displays, effectively making sure that the competition is not seen. EU commissioner Margrethe Vestager says, "We believe that all these restrictions allowed Google to protect its very high market share for search advertising."
EU staff asked questions by the media
It could be argued that Google should have the right to display whatever it wants in the search; after all, it's up to the site administrator to implement it. It's not something that just pops up at random. However, the crux of the problem is that Google quite literally dominates the market, commanding about 80% of the EU search for shopping market.
With as much as the EU has shot at Google, you might imagine that it might just let things play out. Not so, as it's still investigating other areas where Google might be anti-competitive, such as with the travel and local search markets. When you're as massive as Google is, anything anti-competitive is going to be noticed, quick.