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Google rejects EC claims of unfair search competition 

Google has rejected claims from the European Commission that the company favours its own services in its search results, abusing its dominant position. In its official response to the Commission's statement of objections sent in July, Google disputed how the EC defines the online shopping market, similar to its first defense filed in September 2015.

Google said the Commission’s latest claims "didn’t offer a new theory" and failed to understand how consumers shop online. In particular, Google disputes the exclusion of Amazon in the EC's analysis. While Amazon may pay price comparison sites for referred traffic, this is only a tiny fraction of its traffic, Google said, noting that many consumers turn to Amazon first when looking to make a purchase, rather than general search engines.

Google said the market had to be broadened to include the many ways consumers find products, including general search engines, specialist search services, merchant platforms, social-media sites, and online ads served by various companies, not to mention going directly to merchants, increasingly through dedicated mobile apps. The "handful of price comparison sites who’ve filed competition complaints don’t reflect the wider marketplace", Google said.

In addition to the earlier allegations of abusing its dominant position in comparison shopping sites, the Commission's latest accusation is that Google is holding on to its position in the search advertising market by preventing sites from displaying ads from competitors price comparison sites. Google said its search results and algorithms only reflect the most relevant merchant ads and how consumers use the services. It cannot prioritise certain price comparison aggregators, as consumer "clicks tell us that this just isn’t how they want to shop".

"Ultimately, we can’t agree with a case that lacks evidence and would limit our ability to serve our users, just to satisfy the interests of a small number of websites," Google said. The company said it's committed to working with the Commission to resolve its concerns and will also respond in the coming days to the Commission's statement of objections about its dominant position in the Android market.

Source:Telecom Paper