THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT has voted in favour of breaking Google into separate companies to put an end to the online firm's dominance.
In a vote on Thursday, 384 members of the European Parliament voted in favour of taking drastic measures to stop Google's dominance in online search results and enforcing a split between its search business and other services. Around half that number, 174, voted against the measures.
The non-binding resolution calls on the European Commission "to consider proposals aimed at unbundling search engines from other commercial services".
The EC's competition division has been scrutinising Google's search dominance since 2010, and such an unbundling could separate Google services such as hotel reservations and shopping comparison from the web giant's search results.
Ahead of the vote, there was criticism of the plans from the US and nearer to home, according to the BBC.
US senators Ron Wyden and Orrin Hatch, and congressmen Dave Camo and Sander Levin, wrote in a statement: "This and similar proposals build walls rather than bridges [and] do not appear to give full consideration to the negative effect such policies may have on the broader US-EU trade relationship."
Guenther Oettinger, Europe's commissioner for digital affairs, is quoted by German business journalist Roland Tichy as saying there would be no break-up of Google.
While the European Parliament has no authority to force the break-up of a company like Google, it does have the ability to influence the European Commission, which decides on new legislation.
One of the motion's supporters, a Spanish MEP, told the Financial Times that it is necessary to consider such a move as a long-term solution because the Commission could not "ask the secret of [Google’s] algorithm".
European commissioner for competition Margrethe Vestager said she would listen to Google and its various critics before deciding how to go forward with an antitrust inquiry.
"The issues at stake in our investigations have a big potential impact on many players; they are multifaceted and complex. I will therefore need some time to decide on the next steps," she said at a hearing in Brussels.
Google declined to comment on the report, but the FT has heard that executives at the company are "furious" at the motion.
Google has long found itself tied up in European investigations. The firm is involved in an antitrust investigation into its Android operating system, along with the ongoing case regarding its dominance in the search engine market, which was originally set to close this summer. µ
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