Brussels is continuing its pursuit of Google’s dominance of the online world by launching a fresh investigation into the company’s practices, this time over claims that its job-search tool is driving competitors out of the market.
The move comes after 23 online recruitment sites – including Best Jobs Online and German sites Intermedia and Jobindex – wrote to the European Commission earlier this month. They believe that the positioning of the “Google for Jobs” widget – which sits above the top of job search results – is circumventing the need for a user to click through to a traditional job site.
They allege this is illegal because Google is using its dominance to attract users to “ultimately serve as a substitute for other job boards” without the traditional investment.
The joint letter states: “Having launched its online recruitment service, Google for Jobs instantly became market leader in visibility. Google also directly offers its services to recruiters and thus fulfils the typical functions of a job board. In doing so, Google is attempting to circumvent and ultimately serve as a substitute for other job boards.
“In fact, behind our backs, Google’s sales teams are already actively and directly approaching our customers and sourcing recruiters as key clients.”
Speaking at a conference this week, EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager questioned whether it was fair the tech giant had “such control over the success or failure” of its rivals. She added: “We’re looking right now at whether the same thing may have happened with other parts of Google’s business – like Google for Jobs.”
In response, Google said: “Finding a job can be tough, so we worked with jobs providers to create a better experience on Search. Any provider – from individual employers to job listing platforms – can use this feature in Search, and many of them have seen a significant increase in the number of job applications they receive. Since launch, we’ve made a number of changes to address feedback in Europe.”
However, Vestager’s department will take some convincing. Over the past two years, the Commission has whacked Google with fines totalling €8.24bn (£7.5bn) for abuse of competition.
Last year it was hit with a €4.3bn (£3.9bn) penalty relating to its Android mobile operating system and a €2.4bn (£2.2bn) fine for promoting its own shopping service over rivals. In March this year it received a €1.49bn (£1.35bn) penalty for abusing its monopoly in online advertising.
Google is appealing all three antitrust fines, though it has also made changes to each of the services in question.
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