The European Commission is giving Google a short reprieve before it must answer to anti-trust charges.
Google has an additional three weeks to prepare its response to the Commission’s accusation that it suppresses competition and hurts consumers due to the “unfair advantage” it gives its own comparison shopping service.
Google was supposed to have a response ready today, but the extension means it will not have to plead its case until Nov. 7.
A European Commission spokesman told Reuters that Google requested additional time to review the case documents and an extension was granted “allowing Google to fully exercise its rights of defense.”
European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, after formally accusing Google in July, said she will consider the company’s arguments “carefully” before deciding if she will move ahead with the case.
If the investigation concludes Google did indeed break EU anti-trust rules, then the Commission “has a duty to act to protect European consumers and fair competition on European markets,” she said.
“Google has come up with many innovative products that have made a difference to our lives,” Vestager added.
“But that doesn’t give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate. Today, we have further strengthened our case that Google has unduly favoured its own comparison shopping service in its general search result pages. It means consumers may not see the most relevant results to their search queries. We have also raised concerns that Google has hindered competition by limiting the ability of its competitors to place search adverts on third party websites, which stifles consumer choice and innovation.”
Google also has an Oct. 26 deadline to respond to a Statement of Objection, accusing the tech firm of restricting third-party websites from advertising with its competitors and, on Oct. 31, to answer to charges it uses its Android operating system to dominate the mobile marketplace.
If Google is found guilty, it will be looking at fines of as much as $7.4 billion in each case, or as much as 10 percent of its annual sales.
This is not the first fine the European Commission has levied against Google. It slapped the tech firm this spring with a $3.4-billion fine for the tech firm’s search practices. The record fine from the European Commission was announced after a six-year investigation into the tech firm’s search practices.
Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.
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