Italian Antitrust Watchdog Probes Google For Alleged Abuse Of Dominant Position

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Italy's antitrust watchdog has opened an investigation against search giant Google for an alleged abuse of dominant position in the Italian market for display advertising. This refers to the space publishers and website owners make available for the display of advertising content.

Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) said Google might have violated Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union with regard to the availability and use of data for the design of display advertising campaigns.

Tuesday, AGCM conducted inspections at Google's premises, with the collaboration of the Tax Police.

The Italian Competition Authority claims that Google may have discriminately used huge amount of data collected through its various applications, preventing rivals from competing effectively and affecting consumers.

Google is primarily alleged to have engaged in refusing to provide its competitors with Google ID decryption keys and excluding third-party tracking pixels.

The Authority noted that the quality of content directed to end customers is diminished for reduced resources allocated to website producers and publishers in the absence of competition in the intermediation of digital advertising.

The absence of effective competition based on merits could also discourage technological innovation for the development of advertising technologies and techniques less intrusive for consumers.

In early September, the Italian Competition Authority had also launched investigations against six global cloud computing service operators, including Google for Google Drive service, Apple for the iCloud service and Dropbox. They are charged of allegedly unfair commercial practices and the possible presence of unfair terms in the contractual conditions.

Last week, the U.S. Government also filed a lawsuit against Google, accusing it of maintaining an "illegal monopoly" in online search and advertising.

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