Google Could Face Additional Antitrust Heat in Europe

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This story originally appeared on Fortune Magazine

New revelations that Google only narrowly dodged a lawsuit over anti-competitive practices in the U.S. could make the company’s life harder in Europe, where it faces an ongoing investigation into similar issues.

High-level staffers decided in 2012 that the Federal Trade Commission was within reason to bring antitrust charges against Google, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday after receiving that memo accidentally in a Freedom of Information request. The FTC ultimately decided against suing Google after it agreed to make adjustments to its practices.

One European lawmaker with a history of being aggressive toward Google has already said European regulators should take the new revelations into account when deciding how to move forward with their own investigation, the Journal reported in a follow-up story Friday.

“This new . . .evidence is crucial and could not come at better time,” Spanish representative Ramon Tremosa I Balcells told the Journal. Tremosa, the Journal notes, was a major supporter of a European Parliament resolution calling for the possible breakup of Google on antitrust grounds.

Google officials this week are countering the accidental FTC leak by highlighting the agency’s decision not to take action against the company.

“Speculation about potential consumer harm turned out to be entirely wrong,” Google General Counsel Kent Walker told the Journal. “Since the investigation closed two years ago, the ways people access information online have only increased, giving consumers more choice than ever before.”

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