The antitrust regulators of the European Union (EU) are seeking details of Google’s data collection practices, Reuters reported on December 1. The focus of investigation is reportedly on data related to local search, online advertisement targeting, login services, web browsers, and others. In the last two years, Google has been fined more than 8 billion euros by the European Competition Commission and has been ordered to change its business practices.

The Commission had sent out questionnaires to several companies last week, to know more about Google’s data practices, and given then a month to reply, Reuters had previously reported. The questionnaire asked companies about agreements providing data to Google or allowing it to collect data via their services in recent years. The regulator had also asked if these companies had been compensated for this. Other questions included information about the kind of data sought by Google, how it uses it and how valuable the companies consider such data.

A Google spokesperson sent us the following boilerplate response:

“We use data to make our services more useful and to show relevant advertising, and we give people the controls to manage, delete or transfer their data. We will continue to engage with the Commission and others on this important discussion for our industry.”

Other antitrust probes against Google

  • In September 2019, the US House Judiciary Committee started investigating Google’s plan to implement new internet protocol, DNS-over-HTTPS that can give the company undue competitive advantage.
  • In September 2019, 50 state Attorney Generals launched an antitrust probe into Google, looking at its advertising and search businesses.
  • In December 2018, the European Commission sent questionnaires to Google’s rivals asking them if Google demoted local search competitors. It asked for details of Google’s practices and their impact on competing services between January 2012 to December 2017. This questionnaire was prompted by a complaint by American search and advertising company Yelp and rivals in the travel, restaurant and accommodation industries.