The European Parliament has handed Google a massive setback as it voted 384 in favour and 174 against a motion to divorce search engine features from other services. While this vote is not binding, and does not explicitly target Google, it has brought up concerns about what might happen to the internet giant after the matter appears before the European Commission.
Google and Europe have not had the best of relationships over the past few years as European lawmakers continue to investigate the company for unfair practices. The ubiquity of the search engine has raised questions about whether Google has been using its position to obscure competing services. Another issue grappled with in recent months was the matter of the right to be forgotten, which was made law in several European countries; forcing Google to provide a way for people to remove stories about themselves from search results.
Separating search engine functions from other services could force Google to break the company into smaller entities, each dealing with a different aspect of its current business. This is not the first time that a company has had to deal with the EU’s active prevention of what it deems to be monopolies, as even Microsoft faced anti-trust action back in the 90s.
A lobbying group whose members include Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and Facebook have criticised the decision by saying that it made no sense in rapidly changing online markets. It went on to say that unbundling the services would be extreme and unworkable.
Google has declined to comment one the matter while European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has said she will review the case and talk to complainants before deciding on the next step.