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Google’s Problems in the European Union

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Finally, Google gets a spate of relief as Italy drops it antitrust investigation against the Search giant.


Following a series of complaints by Italian newspaper publishers against Google in 2009, claiming that the company was using their material to generate advertising on the Google Italia news site, Italian regulators began an antitrust investigation into Google’s news service.


“We have worked cooperatively with the Italian competition authority and our publishing partners to address their questions and concerns,” Google said in a statement to the New York Times. The company has pledged to make it possible for news publishers to opt out of the Google News without affecting their search results.


Google has faced a slew of cases and investigations for countries in the European Union including Brussels and recently, Germany. These problems facing Google range from antitrust to privacy issues.


Just this week, Guardian reported that the Spanish data protection authority had ordered Google to remove 100 online articles from its search results. Google is preparing to battle that order in court saying that such an action would have “profound, chilling effect” on freedom of expression.


According to the report, Google said it could not be held responsible for all content on the internet as it was merely an intermediary. Peter Barron, Google’s director of external relations for Europe was quoted as saying “We are disappointed by the actions of the Spanish privacy regulator. Spanish and European law rightly hold the publisher of the material responsible for its content.


“Requiring intermediaries like search engines to censor material published by others would have a profound, chilling effect on free expression without protecting people’s privacy.”


With all these hanging over Google’s head in the European Union, the decision by Italy to drop the antitrust investigation against Google must have come as a huge relief.




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