US tech giant Google may face fresh antitrust charges by EU regulators as early as next month in relation to its advertising business. In the past, the company has faced charges for allegedly abusing its market dominance in the online shopping space as well as the Android operating system.
The EU antitrust commission headed by commissioner Margrethe Vestager has reportedly asked Google's rivals to declassify details of meetings and e-mail exchanges related to the probe before it can go ahead and press official charges. The company's two advertising services AdWords and AdSense and its terms have been under the lens since 2010, after rivals complained about unfair advertising clauses and undue restrictions on advertisers.
The ad business generates the highest revenue for Google, which is now part of its holding company Alphabet. In 2015, the business posted about $75bn (£56bn) in revenue accounting for 90% of Alphabet's total annual revenue as per Reuters.
If the charges are officially filed, it will be the third anti-trust case against Google by the EU regulator. In April, the commission had charged Google with abusing the dominance of its Android OS, which accounts for about 80% of the world market for mobile phones. The charges alleged that Google forces all manufacturers using Android to include a folder containing 11 Google apps on all devices, and that the folder must be just one swipe away from the home screen.
In the same month Vestager had announced that the commission had issued a "statement of objections", stating that the firm's promotion of its own shopping links amounted to an abuse of its dominance in search as Google accounts for more than a 90% of EU-based web searches. Reuters estimates that if these charges go through the company could be fined up to $7.4bn or 10% of its global turnover for each case.