October 13, 2013
Google Facing Antitrust Accusations In Brazil
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Brazil’s federal antitrust court (Cade) is investigating allegations of anti-competitive practices levied against Google by Microsoft and a pair of Brazilian comparison shopping sites, various media outlets reported late last week.
According to Reuters, the Redmond, Washington-based Windows developer has filed a complaint claiming how their Mountain View, California rivals are interfering with ad campaigns across several different websites in order to give an unfair advantage to Google’s own AdWords marketing division.
In addition, Buscapé and Bondfardo have accused Google of “scraping” – reproducing product reviews from their users – without allowing the Brazilian-based websites to do likewise with reviews from Google Shopping. E-Commerce Media Group Informação e Tecnologia, the owner of the two shopping websites, has also asked Cade to investigate whether or not Google has rigged it so its online marketplace is the only price-comparison service that appears with reviews, images and prices.
“A court spokeswoman said Google would have 30 days to present a defense in the investigation. If the complaint is found valid by the superintendency, the spokeswoman said, the court will open formal trial hearings on the matter,” Dow Jones Business News explained on Friday. Under Brazilian law, if Google is found guilty, the company could be forced to pay fines of up to 20 percent of its local gross revenues in the year prior to the complaint.
“We will of course work with Brazilian regulators to address any questions or concerns they may have,” Google told Financial Times in an emailed statement. The company added, “governments and courts around the world – including in Brazil – have already examined competition issues thoroughly and found no violation of law.”
The new legal action comes as Google inches closer to settling a three-year antitrust case with the European Union – a lawsuit based on accusations similar to those being raised in Brazil. Furthermore, according to Reuters, last year the search engine giant won an initial ruling in a suit brought by E-Commerce Media Group Informação e Tecnologia – a suit making similar accusations as those raised in the new Cade complaint.
“Google is facing increased scrutiny at a time when Brazilian regulators are working to ramp up the enforcement of competition laws following years of complaints from consumer advocates of lax oversight and antitrust abuses by companies,” Haynes added.