Google could face a third antitrust lawsuit from the European Union (EU). This time the search engine giant’s lucrative advertising service is under investigation by EU officials, according to Bloomberg based on information from people familiar with the situation.
EU officials sent the requests of the complainants to share their evidences against Google, according to the sources who requested anonymity because the matter is still private. One of them said one request was already sent last week.
Such step is normally done by the regulator before releasing its statement of objections, which outlines how a company may have violated the EU antitrust rules.
Google’s advertising revenue could be impacted
There is a possibility that investigation on Google’s advertising services could have a bigger impact on its revenue than the two other investigations.
The company displays advertisement together with search results and web content through AdWords—its primary revenue growth driver. Google generated most of its $74.5 billion revenue last year from advertising.
Five years ago, the investigation against the company was focused on its contracts with websites that blocks non-Google advertising services and agreements with computer and software vendors that prevent them from using other search tools.
In 2013, the company offered to remove clauses in its AdSense for search contracts that required websites to accept its ads when they put a Google search box on a page.
Last month, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said she hoped the investigation on the company’s AdWords advertising service would be completed “within a reasonable timeframe.”
Other antitrust lawsuits against Google
In April, the European Commission sent an objection statement to Google indicating that it violated the EU antitrust rules. The regulator found that the search engine giant abused its dominant position by imposing restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators. It is concerned that Google’s Android strategy was designed to protect its search engine on mobile devices.
Last year, European antitrust regulator filed a complaint against the search engine giant on allegations that it was unfairly promoting its shopping search services and at the same time undermining its competitors.
Google is now operating as a subsidiary of Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG), a public holding company created last year.