Microsoft throws weight behind EU’s Google probe

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Microsoft claims Google is keeping some advertisers from accessing their own data and transferring it to rival advertising platforms, such as its own adCenter. That allegation echoes complaints by other companies and is part of the Commission’s probe.

Smith said Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., had provided the European Commission with a “considerable body of expert analysis” to support its case.

With its complaint, Microsoft finds itself in a new situation in Europe, after it battled antitrust investigations and billion euro (dollar) fines from the European Commission for years.

“Having spent more than a decade wearing the shoe on the other foot with the European Commission, the filing of a formal antitrust complaint is not something we take lightly,” Smith said.

That Microsoft is getting involved in the EU’s Google probe is quite “natural,” said Federico Etro, an economics professor at the University of Venice who has studied the case.

However, “to frame this just as a Microsoft-Google scenario is a bit missing the bigger picture,” he added.

Online search is a very complex market with one clearly dominant firm, creating multiple consumer and economic issues, said Etro.

The Commission’s investigation is a necessary step to gain more transparency, not only about competitors’ and advertisers’ access to services and data, but also on how Google prices placement for its search and display ads, Etro said.

If Google is found guilty of anticompetitive behavior it could be fined up to 10 percent of annual revenue, which reached some $29 billion last year.

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