Spain competition watchdog opens Google probe

Spain competition watchdog opens Google probe

Spain competition watchdog opens Google probe

Spain’s competition watchdog has launched an investigation into Google for alleged anti-competitive practices affecting news agencies and press publications.

The probe seeks to determine if Google and its parent company Alphabet abused their “dominant position” in the Spanish market, competition watchdog CNMC said in a statement late on March 28.

“Specifically, these practices consist of the possible imposition of unfair commercial conditions on publishers of press publications and news agencies established in Spain for the exploitation of their copyrighted content,” it added.

The watchdog said it opened its probe following a complaint from the Spanish Reproduction Rights Centre (CEDRO), a non-profit association of authors and publishers of books, magazines and newspapers.

It did not specify the period covered by the investigation, nor what sanctions Google could face if it is proven that Google had abused its dominant position in Spain.

The European Union and several member states have in recent years taken steps to stop U.S. tech giants like Google from stifling competition, avoiding tax and profit from news content without paying.

The digital giants are regularly criticized for dominating markets by elbowing out rivals.

In July 2022, the European Parliament adopted the Digital Markets Act to curb the market dominance of Big Tech, with violators facing fines of up to 10 percent of their annual global sales.

Brussels has slapped over 8 billion euros in fines on Google alone for abusing its dominant market position.

The EU has also created a form of copyright called “neighboring rights” that allows print media to demand compensation for use of their content.

After initial resistance, Google and Facebook agreed to pay French media, for articles shown in web searches.