Google to Face Antitrust Charges in Europe (Report)

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If the European Commission charges Google with favoring its own services over others in search, it would be one of the biggest antitrust cases in the region.

The European Commission is expected to charge Google with using its position in online search to favor its own services after a nearly five-year investigation into the tech giant. 

EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager is expected to announce the decision on Wednesday in Brussels, according to report in The New York Times. If the EU finds that Google has been blocking competition, the Menlo Park, Calif.,-based company could face fines in excess of $6 billion, according to the The Wall Street Journal.

This would make it the largest antitrust case in Europe since regulators levied nearly $2 billion in fines against Microsoft over a decade and comes after nearly five years of investigations by the European Commission into Google's business practices. It would also impact Google's business and likely force the company to give competitors more favorable placement in its search tool. 

There are more than two dozen antitrust complaints filed against Google in Europe, reports the Times, that allege that the company blocks competition from online map, travel services and shopping products.

Google would have three months to respond to the changes, reports the Journal, and could request a hearing. A final decision could come by the end of the year. Google also has the option of appealing the decision, a process that could take years. 

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The decision comes weeks after European regulators began looking into Apple's negotiations with record labels ahead of its relaunch of Beats Music prompted by concerns that the company could be pushing labels to abandon freemium music streaming services such as Spotify in favor of subscription-based services. If the European Commission finds that Apple violated antitrust laws, the company also could be heavily fined or forced to change its business practices. 

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