Google Faces EU Antitrust Investigation For Job Search Tool

Google is facing another European antitrust investigation after rivals complained about its job search tool.

Google had launched its jobs search service in the UK in July 2018, a year after it debuted in the US.

But its arrival was warmly welcomed on this side of the pond, and earlier this month 23 European job listing websites filed a complaint with the European Union competition commission.

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager. Image credit: European Commission

EU Investigation

For two years now Google has placed a large widget at the top of results for searches such as “IT jobs” in most of the world.

The European job websites argues this gives Google an unfair advantage, as Google is alleged to use its search domination to lure job hunters to its listings, whilst avoiding the investments that traditional job listing websites are required to make in order to establish themselves.

Their letter of complaint said that Google’s actions has allowed its to unfairly grow its job listing business and cost traditional job listing websites both users and profits.

And now european competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has confirmed on Tuesday that EU regulators are checking Google for Jobs to see if the company unfairly favours its fast-growing tool for searching job listings, Reuters reported.

“We’re looking right now at whether the same thing may have happened with other parts of Google’s business – like the job search business known as Google for Jobs,” Vestager reportedly told a conference in Berlin.

Vestager also reportedly said the European Commission may adopt rules to rein in tech giants if they do not play fair.

“There’s also a broader issue for our societies, of whether we think it’s right for companies like Google and others to have such control over the success or failure of other companies, and be free to use that power in any way they like,” she was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“If we don’t, then we may find that we need regulation, to make sure that these platforms use their power in a way that’s fair and doesn’t discriminate,” Vestager said.

Google meanwhile has said it had made changes to the tool following feedback in Europe, including offering direct links to a choice of job sites and linking directly to job offers available only on a single site.

Other actions

Google has been fined a total of 8.25 billion euros ($9.2bn) in fines by European regulators over the past few years.

In March this year Google was fined 1.49bn euros (£1.3bn) for its AdSense advertising service, after the European Commission accused Google of utilising restrictive clauses in its AdSense contracts with third-party websites, which prevented Google’s rivals from placing their search adverts on these websites between 2006 and 2016.

Google in 2017 was also fined 2.4bn euros (£2.01bn) after the Commission ruled that Google had thwarted rivals of shopping comparison websites.

Then in July 2018 the European Commission fined Google a record 4.3 billion euros (£3.83bn) for commercial practices related to its Android mobile operating system, the world’s highest ever antitrust penalty.

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Tom Jowitt @TJowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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