In a vote on Thursday, European Parliament members voted 384 to 174 in favor of a resolution that calls for the unbundling of search engines from other commercial services to ensure competition among online companies. Although Google is not named specifically in the resolution, it's clearly targeted at the dominant search engine.
The resolution would still have to be approved by the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, to take effect, but the overwhelming vote in favor of separating search from other online products increases the likelihood that Google could face a major regulatory headache, arstechnica.com reports.
In a press release, the European Parliament called on EU member states and the European Commission to “break down barriers to the growth of the EU's digital single market” (a “single market” refers to the EU as an association of 28 countries trading freely between each other without restrictions). The Parliament also “stressed the need to prevent online companies from abusing dominant positions.”
Lawmakers expressed concern, in particular, that Google was using its dominance to promote its own services unfairly and to obscure the services of its competitors. In the resolution, the Parliament asked the European Commission “to prevent any abuse in the marketing of interlinked services by operators of search engines,'” and asserted that "Indexation, evaluation, presentation, and ranking by search engines must be unbiased and transparent.”
Reuters reports that European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager “has said she will review the case and talk to complainants before deciding on the next step.” Earlier this month, when the Financial Times reported on the draft resolution, it noted that the European Commission has been investigating Google for unfair practices for years. Earlier this week, US lawmakers urged the European Parliament not to vote to break up Google.
Google declined to comment to Reuters. Ars has contacted Google and will update if we receive a response.
This is only the latest in a slew of troubles Google has had with European regulators. It has also seen regulation, fines, and warnings from Europe with respect to taxation, copyright concerns, and the “right to be forgotten.”