In August, the Italian competition authorities launched an investigation to assess whether Google Italy had abused its dominant position in the online search engine market and the online advertising market.
The Italian competition authorities started this investigation because of a complaint received from the Italian Federation of Newspaper Editors. This complaint related to the Google News Italia service, which draws headlines and brief summaries of stories from online news sites.
The Italian Federation of Newspaper Editors complained that, by using online publishers' products without remuneration, Google News Italia impacts on their ability to attract users and advertising to their sites. Moreover, they argued that Google had abused its dominant position in the search engine business by excluding news publishers' content from Google's search engine if they decide to opt out of the Google News Italia service. This has a significant impact on the market for online advertising since Google's search engine is a significant factor in attracting visitors and increasing advertising revenue.
The Italian competition authorities will investigate whether Google has abused its dominant position in the online search engine market to adversely affect competition in the online advertising market. This case is an illustration of growing concern amongst EU antitrust authorities with regards to Google’s market power in online search and advertising (see our briefing in November 2008).