EU regulators have brought a third antitrust charge against Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc. The world’s most popular internet search engine is already being accused of blocking rivals in the lucrative online search advertising market.
The new charge accuses Google of having abused its dominant position by artificially preventing third-party websites from displaying search advertisements from its competitors.
That relates to Google’s “AdSense for Search” platform, where Google acts as an intermediary for websites such as those of online retailers, telecoms operators or newspapers, with searches producing results that include search ads.
The Commission said it had sent two “statements of objections” to Google.
The European Commission also strengthened an existing charge that Google search results favour the US business’s own shopping service over that of its rivals.
“Google has come up with many innovative products that have made a difference to our lives,” the EU’s Margrethe Vestager told a news conference in Brussels.
“But that doesn’t give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate.”
She added: “We have also raised concerns that Google has hindered competition by limiting the ability of its competitors to place search adverts on third-party websites, which stifles consumer choice and innovation.”
The US government appears to have been irritated by the EU’s pursuit of Google, as well as other investigations into US giants over tax issues and personal data matter.
President Barack Obama last year accused Europe of veering toward protectionism.
However, Ms Vestager, a former Danish economy minister, insists she is simply applying the law and promoting free competition.
Google’s AdWords and AdSense programmes have been under investigation since 2010 after rivals complained about unfair advertising exclusivity clauses and undue restrictions on other advertisers.
They form the core of Google’s business which posted about $75bn (£56bn) in revenue last year, most of Alphabet’s total annual revenue.
Google could face fines of up to 10% of its global turnover for each case if found guilty of breaching the bloc’s antitrust rules.
Google said it believe it increased choice for European consumers and increased choice.
“We’ll examine the Commission’s renewed cases and provide a detailed response in the coming weeks,” a Google spokesman said.