European regulators are moving early on Google antitrust probe, telling Reuters that a decision on a formal complaint against Google for misuse of its market position will be reached in late March, much sooner than expected. EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told the news gathering organization late on Tuesday:
I will receive comments from the case team towards the end of the first quarter. I do not expect anything sooner. Let us see.
Since November of last year, 10 complainants such as Microsoft, VfT, Foundem, Deal du Jour, 1plusV and the Spanish Association of Daily Newspaper Publishers have filed complaints with the Commission, accusing the search giant of misusing its dominance in search. Google’s problem with EU courts could result in a multi-billion dollar fine, as had been the case with EU antitrust probes into Microsoft and Intel in the past.
Google is also facing Congressional hearings in the United States related to its business practices. Last week, the United States Federal Trade Commission said it would expand its antitrust probe of Google to include the inspection of social network service Google+. The search giant yesterday announced a new multi-million dollar public awareness campaign designed to educate U.S. consumers on web security and privacy.